Painted Horses (Paperback)
August 2014 Indie Next List
“Brooks sweeps post-WWII American prosperity, ancient native traditions, and the rush to tame the still-wild West together in a novel driven by diverse and deeply realized characters that come together in a heart-pounding story. Catherine Lemay is a talented young archeologist defying the traditions of a 'man's world' by accepting the challenge to explore a Montana canyon slated for flooding for hydroelectric power. What she discovers is beauty, history, threats, and John H - a former mustanger, Army veteran, and enigmatic canyon dweller. Far from her comfortable New York home, Catherine embraces Montana's stark conditions and with John H uncovers both secrets of the region and truths within herself. A breathtaking debut!”
— Cheryl McKeon, Book Passage, San Francisco, CA
Engrossing . . . The best novels are not just written but builtscene by scene, character by characteruntil a world emerges for readers to fall into. "Painted Horses" creates several worlds in a seamless and ambitious blend of history, romance, archaeology and nature. . . . Hard to forget. Bob Minzesheimer, "USA Today" (4 out of 4 stars)
In the mid-1950s, America was flush with prosperity and saw an unbroken line of progress clear to the horizon, while the West was still very much wild. In "Painted Horses," now in paperback, a dauntless woman travels into that untamed landscape in an adventure that will change her life. Catherine Lemay is a young archaeologist who's come to Montana with a huge task before hera canyon as deep as the devil's own appetites. Working ahead of a major dam project, she has one summer to prove nothing of historical value will be lost in the flood. From the moment she arrives, nothing is what she expects. John H is a former mustanger with an intuitive genius for breaking horses. A veteran of the U.S. Army's last mounted cavalry campaign, he lives a fugitive life, driven by pursuit of one last wild thing. John H inspires Catherine to see beauty in the stark landscape, and her heart opens to more than just the vanished past. "Painted Horses" sings a love song to the horseman's vanishing way of life and reminds us that love and ambition, tradition and progress, often make strange bedfellows.
Extraordinary . . . Surprising and satisfying . . . Brooks has fashioned compelling and sympathetic protagonists. . . . John Horphan, rail rider, cowboy, World War II veteran, Paris artist, canyon hermitin particular, has a backstory that is both intimate and sweeping in a way that may remind readers of Michael Ondaatje's "The English Patient." . . . "Painted Horses" is, after all, one of those big, old-fashioned novels where the mundane and the unlikely coexist. Kent Black, "Boston Globe"
Malcolm Brooks novel has the hard thrill of the West, when it was still a new world, the tenderness of first love and the pain of knowledge. This book is a gripping, compulsively readable page-turner. Amy Bloom, author of "Away"
About the Author
Malcolm Brooks was raised in the rural foothills of the California Sierras, where Gold Rush and Native American artifacts still abound. A carpenter by trade, he has lived in Montana for most of two decades. His writing has appeared in "Gray s Sporting Journal," "Outside," "Sports Afield," and "Montana Quarterly," among others. "Painted Horses" is his first novel.