Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

35181570Two adolescent brothers are exposed to the brutal realities of life and the seductive cruelty of power after a tragedy shatters their family in this riveting debut novel—a story of savagery and race, injustice and honor set in the untamed frontier of 1880s Australia—reminiscent of Philipp Meyer’s The Son and the novels of Cormac McCarthy

An epic Western, a tough coming-of-age story, and a tension-laden tale of survival, Only Killers and Thieves is a gripping and utterly transporting debut that brings to vivid life a colonial Australian frontier that bears a striking resemblance to the American West in its formative years.


This is a brutal story, but one that is beautifully told. The characters, especially Tommy and Noone, are truly realized, brought to life for the reader. It is important to get through the first thirty pages or so. They are a bit on the slow side, but once you do pass that threshold, a stunning story unfolds.

I will warn that there is a lot of violence in this novel. Of all kinds. If you are triggered by explicit fight scenes, assaults, descriptions of carnal violene, don’t even think of picking this book up. Some scenes are really, really tough to read. But the beauty of Howarth’s writing, the descriptions of the landscape that is as brutal as the plot, will captivate anyone.

I highly recommend this one.



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