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The Whipping Boy: A Novel

326 pages6 hours


An “engaging” novel of hardship, danger, and frontier adventure in the Oklahoma Territory at the end of the nineteenth century (Publishers Weekly).
The Oklahoma Territory is a bleak, brutal place in 1894, especially for Tom Freshour, a half-Indian who knows nothing of the world beyond the orphanage where he’s been raised by a sadistic minister who forces him to bear witness to a botched public hanging. But Tom is about to get a bracing education, thanks especially to two people: Jake Jaycox, an aging hardware salesman who takes Tom under his wing, and Samantha King, a beautiful, mysterious woman who attaches herself to the two men and promptly seduces Tom.
The adventures of this colorful trio begin with a horrific flood—but the story turns darker when Tom and his companions run afoul of a scheme to steal thousands of acres from depression-ravaged farmers. Before long, they are being chased by a hired killer—and Tom’s searing memories of his childhood drive him back to the orphanage and a violent confrontation with the man who made him a whipping boy. As Tom learns more about the world around him, he suspects that the real villains in this unforgiving territory may not be the outlaws with six-guns, but the businessmen who will do anything to amass wealth and property.
“A rollicking page-turner. I read it once with a fierce compulsion to find out what would happen, a second time for the pleasure of the language and craft.” —Wally Lamb, author of She’s Come Undone
“Here is the real West in its lurid twilight—the Oklahoma Indian Territory when the last land grab was under way. Here too is a good mystery [and] a bawdy romance. . . . Every vignette of frontier life—flood, train wreck, blizzard, bank, brother, or church—is authentic.” —Will Baker, author of Hell, West, and Crooked
“Brings alive the pain and shame of a little-read chapter of history, when greed ruled, thievery wore a frock coat, and guile was the governing virtue.” —Charles Gusewelle, columnist, The Kansas City Star

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