Twelve-year-old Joey Shipman, growing up in the East Texas blacklands in 1885, has more of a burden to bear than most boys his age. When his beloved Pa dies in a mysterious accident, Joey is orphaned and forced to live with his stepmother, Dulcie, and a hanger-on at the farm, a slick-talking, ingratiating live-in cousin of Dulcies, named Blair Meacham. After Joeys best friend, the black farmhand Reuben, is found dead, and after Joey himself is nearly killed in a series of inexplicable accidents, he runs away from Dulcie, who he believes is trying to get rid of him in order to inherit the Shipman farm.
Taking his old horse, Taw, the clothes on his back, and a bagful of food, Joey heads to the town of Bastrop, where Beau Shipman, his only kin and a pathetic drunk, spends most of his time in the town jail. When Joey finds he is being trailed by the murderous Blair Meacham, he turns to the only people he can trust, and an unlikely bunch they are his reluctant guardian, the whiskey-soaked Beau Shipman; Miller Dawson, an outlaw who turns out to be a friend but nothing like the Robin Hood Joey has conjured up; Alta, a San Antonio prostitute; and Alister McIntosh, a sheepman who understands Joey better than anyone. The six-time Spur Award-winning author of more than 30 novels now offers a story of betrayal and murder set in the American West of the 1880s.
When 12-year-old Joey Shipmans beloved father dies under mysterious circumstances, he is forced to go and live with his stepmother Dulcie and her slick-talking, ingratiating live-in cousin. 256 pp. Print ads.