cover image Crippled Jack

Crippled Jack

Boston Teran. High Top, $22 (280p) ISBN 978-1-56703-101-0

Set in the post–Civil War era, this outstanding crime novel from the pseudonymous Teran (Two Boys at Breakwater) opens with an eight-year-old boy, bound, gagged, and left to die, crawling along a remote Texas trail. A lone rider named Ledru Drum discovers the palsy-stricken child and takes him under his wing. Drum is on the run from Pinkerton agents because of a series of railroad bombings perpetrated by an assassin known only as the Coffin Maker. Matthew, as Drum christens the boy, finds his first real home among the hardscrabble group of labor organizers and workers led by the real-life Mary “Mother” Jones. Matthew’s new family is wrenched from him once again, however, when Drum is killed by Pinkerton agents. The Pinkertons take the boy to a labor camp, where he lives for 10 years before escaping. Matthew, now a young man, reinvents himself as a celebrity marksman known as Crippled Jack. His real mission, however, is to exact vengeance against the men who destroyed his world. The action builds to an exciting showdown between unionized mine workers and strike breakers in Leadville, Colo. Teran’s storytelling has a mythic quality to it, and his recreation of a violent era in American history will resonate with many today. Fans of Charles Portis and Philipp Meyer will be enthralled. Agent: Natasha Kern, Natasha Kern Literary. (Sept.)