At 17, the greatest miracle suffered by Edward Turrentine Bayard III is that the West had not yet killed him. In 1871, pallid and sickly, he's shipped from his Connecticut home to convalesce at a Nebraska sanitarium that's little more than a couple of two-by-fours and a sly scam. Marooned and miserable, he takes a job skinning buffalo and is immediately besotted. His swarthy landlady lends an ear and keeps him fed while the beautiful Lill Martine haunts his days with intoxicating promise. But neither the Old West nor the temptations of romance can contain him when he's offered a position back East.
Safely back in the Nutmeg State, Ned welcomes the attentions of a ragtag trio. All too soon, they're wrongly accused of planting a bomb at a local labor rally, and he and his newfound friends disappear for points west, a Pinkerton detective hot on their trail, misadventure their constant companion. Traveling through big city slums and the vast Great Plains, their escape takes Ned back to the American frontier and a long-awaited reunion.
Thrilling historical and geographical terrain is charted in Warren's debut, with a pitch-perfect narrator and canvas exploding with detail. Turpentine is a grand picaresque, a comic and winning patchwork of experience that measures one man's growth against that of a nation. (Holiday 2007 Selection)