In this loose sequel to his award-winning novel, East of Denver, author Gregory Hill spins another off-kilter yarn set in fictional Strattford County that is “raw, untamed, gritty, bold, fantastic and slightly, wonderfully crazy.” Johnny Riles leads a lonesome life on Colorado’s high prairie in 1975. His parents abandoned him to the family ranch after he accidentally shot his father, and his irresponsible younger brother, Kitch, left home to become a star player in the American Basketball Association. With only his livestock and his whiskey to keep him company, Johnny spends his hours wandering the barren landscape looking for arrowheads. But one cold, October evening, Johnny finds a mysterious skull half-buried in the ground. When he ties it to his saddle to bring it home, his horse panics and bolts, leaving Johnny alone in a freak blizzard that suddenly blows in. Unprepared for the freezing night, Johnny tracks his horse through the mounting snow, only to discover that it has been gruesomely killed. So begin Johnny’s trials. He delves beneath stark Western landscapes, both literal and figurative, to unearth the truths behind his nightmares, searching for the mysterious killer, for his brother’s soul, and for a sober reason to live.
“Filled with the same easy energy and bright style that earned praise and awards for East of Denver, The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles will take you to places you didn’t know existed–both on the hard plains of eastern Colorado and deep inside the soul of an unforgettable man who knows the world is a mean place. He knows the perfect song and the perfect drink to get him through the day, but even Johnny Riles can’t predict what the world, or his brother, might throw his way. After a sip or two of this richly-told novel, you’ll want to glug the whole thing down.” – Mark Stevens, author of the Allison Coil Mystery Series
GREGORY HILL grew up on the eastern edge of the American west, on a wheat farm near a tiny Colorado town called Joes. His relationship with that anarchic, windswept region in the heart of America continues to this day; and his novels are saturated in the area’s wildlife, language, and gleeful insanity. Relying extensively on desperate characters in barren landscapes, his work could be described as an antidote to the myth of the wholesome, God-fearing heartland.