Critically acclaimed author Thomas Cobb’s second novel is a “thoughtful Western” (Publishers Weekly) based on the actual events of the 1871 Camp Grant massacre. With Shavetail, Cobb delivers a masterly tale of a young man’s initiation into the brutality of conflict. When 17-year-old runaway Ned Thorne joins Captain Robert Franklin at the Camp Grant outpost, located at the edge of Arizona’s Chiricahua mountains, he enters into a world of blood and redemption. Franklin, still reeling from a failed campaign, seizes on the chance to make amends when a nearby farmhouse is raided—and a woman kidnapped—by renegade Apaches. Both Franklin and Thorne will find, however, that battle leaves scars for which there is no salve. A rich display of elegiac prose, Shavetail delivers a story both meditative and driven by a violent intensity. Narrator Tom Stechschulte channels the author’s vivid descriptions of landscape and a fully realized cast of characters.
This is a story of a young lad that has joined the Army in 1871. It is set in the west but no ordinary western. First Tom Stechschulte is doing the tell and he is magnificent. He will be best remembered for relating The Road, but he does just as well in this novel. I can tell which character he is doing without the he said or she said, and he does not over emote, just tiny inflections of difference. The story itself is no shoot em up page turner although there is action and death, and deceit. It is more like a saga, similar to Red Badge of Courage. You go through the pain this young lad does in his rough life in the army. Believe me, all does not go well, and I think I would have preferred it turn out better. The ending is abrupt and does leave something to the imagination, but you can figure it out and I think mostly I just did not want it to end at all. Bravo to the author for he has penned a tale.
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