Fulcrum Publishing ($24.95)
by Jaspar Lepak
Set near Hardin, Montana, in 1991, Spoon is a modern-day Western, complete with good guys, bad guys, and inclement weather. This time, the battle of good and evil takes place at Willow Creek Ranch, and the good guys are the Darley family, who have owned and farmed the land for generations. Threatening their way of life is Acota, a money-hungry energy company greedy for the coal that lies underneath the ranch’s land. The Darleys are strong fighters, but they wouldn’t stand a chance against Acota without the timely arrival of Arcus Witherspoon (nicknamed Spoon), a part-black, part-Indian, clairvoyant drifter who can do just about anything.
When T. J. Darley picks up the hitchhiking Spoon, he gets the sense right away that Spoon is something special. The Darleys can use the extra help at the ranch, but when T. J. brings Spoon back to Willow Creek, his do-it-yourself father needs convincing. With the help of an outrageous bet and some prodding from T. J.’s mother—a spitfire with a heart as sweet as her homemade pies—Spoon is hired on, and from that moment, the reader knows there isn’t a better man for the Darleys to have at their side.
Spoon comes to Hardin County seeking his roots, but T. J. Darley is also on a quest. Freshly graduated from high school, T. J. has put his college scholarship on hold because while he knows better than most people where he comes from, he doesn’t know who he is well enough to decide his next step in life. Spoon’s opposite problem—knowing who he is but not where he comes from—acts as a guide to help bring T. J. to his answer: “I found myself wondering what it was that drove a man like Spoon, and then wondering even more what it was that drove me.”
On Acota’s side lies money and power, while the Darleys have only their love for the land, a gumshoe lawyer, and Spoon. It’s a close battle all the way to the finish, including foul play so audacious that threats, manipulation, and violence nearly leave the Darleys helpless to protect what is rightfully theirs. Ultimately though, Spoon comes into their lives not to save the ranch, but to help T. J. realize who he is and what is most important to him. If only everyone could have an Arcus Witherspoon enter so heroically at the right time. In Spoon, Robert Greer has created a character sure to win a place in readers’ hearts.
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Rain Taxi Online Edition, Winter 2009/2010 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2009/2010