Only Killers and Thieves

Howarth, Paul


On Sale Date: 2/13/18
Imprint: Harper
Print Run: 75K
Format: HC
Pages: 336
Price: 27
ISBN: 62690965
ISBN 13: 9780062690968
Other Formats
Ebook 9780062690999
LP 9780062792099
Digital Audio 9780062798619

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

It is 1885 and the McBride family are victims of a crippling drought: their cattle are starved, and the family can no longer purchase food in town on their depleted credit. When the rain finally comes, it’s as if the family’s prayers have been answered. For a moment, the scrubland flourishes and the swimming hole fills. Returning home from an afternoon swim, Tommy and Billy McBride, ages fourteen and sixteen respectively, discover a scene of horrific carnage: their dogs dead in the yard, their hardworking father and mother shot to death, and their precocious younger sister bleeding out from a wound in her gut. Desperate to save Mary, the boys rush her to the home of John Sullivan, the wealthiest landowner in the region and former employer of their father, who promises to get her immediate medical treatment.

In search of retribution, the two brothers are persuaded by Sullivan to join an expedition of the Queensland Native Police, an infamous arm of colonial power whose sole purpose is the “dispersal” of indigenous Australians in protection of settler rights. Led by the intimidating Police inspector Edmund Noone, the expedition that ensues will have enduring and devastating consequences for the young country struggling to come into its own and will torment Tommy for the rest of his life.

Set in a period of Australian and British history as raw and relevant as that of frontier America, this is an unforgettable story of family, guilt, empire, race, and faith that combines the insightfulness of Philipp Meyer’s The Son with the raw storytelling power of Smith Henderson’s Fourth of July Creek.