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Pretty Boy, by Bill Brooks
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by Bill Brooks
“As I lay dying, I see Daddy Walter sitting on the porch reading a Bible sold to him by a man wearing spats.” Thus begins the novel of Charles Arthur Floyd, best known to depression-era America as Pretty Boy Floyd. “I was the dreamer, the seeker of all things beyond my reach, the dandy, the dancer, the lover of countless woman, the bank robber, the husband, the father, the son, the brother. I was the most wanted man in America.”
Rising out of the harvests and oil fields of the Oklahoma dustbowl that John Steinbeck so poignantly captured in The Grapes of Wrath, Pretty Boy Floyd became the most wanted man in America by the newly formed FBI-and the woman who loved him.
And while Bonnie and Clyde were tearing up the country, robbing and shooting their way across the Southwest-Charley knew them both, cared for neither-Charley was robbing banks from Kansas City to Ohio. The local newspapers were full of stories about guys like John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly, and Al Capone, but none of them had what Pretty Boy had: uncommon good luck, a taste for fancy clothes, fancy cars, and beautiful dames.
Brooks’ novel deserves to be mentioned with such western classics as Shane, Hombre, and The Virginian. He captures the everyday humanity behind the legends while simultaneously adding to the myth of the great golden West. This is one of the most inventive, moving, and memorable western novels in many years.
—Booklist *starred review* on The Stone Garden
This well-crafted tale is a graceful song, alive with drama [and] biting wit . . .
—Publishers Weekly on The Stone Garden
The interplay between Cole and his two riding buddies make this fine novel sing. Western fans are largely forced to survive on reprints originally written decades ago, which makes the work of contemporary writers like Brooks, who work in the grand western tradition, all the more satisfying.
—Booklist *starred review* on Winter Kill
Leavening the action is Brooks’ sly humor—for instance, when a near-penniless Cole shops for an ornery, speckled, $30 horse; or when, by the campfire, Cole and Harper discuss Don Quixote. Another fine effort.
—Booklist *starred review* on Frontier Justice