Two brothers are exposed to the brutal realities of life and the seductive cruelty of power in this riveting debut novel—a story of savagery and race, injustice and honor, set in the untamed frontier of 1880s Australia—reminiscent of Philipp Meyer’s The Son and the novels of Cormac McCarthy.
An epic tale of revenge and survival, Only Killers and Thieves is a gripping and utterly transporting debut, bringing to vivid life a colonial Australia that bears a striking resemblance to the American Wild West in its formative years.
It is 1885, and a crippling drought threatens to ruin the McBride family. Their land is parched, their cattle starving. When the rain finally comes, it is a miracle that renews their hope for survival. But returning home from an afternoon swimming at a remote waterhole filled by the downpour, fourteen-year-old Tommy and sixteen-year-old Billy meet with a shocking tragedy.
Thirsting for vengeance against the man they believe has wronged them—their former Aboriginal stockman—the distraught brothers turn to the ruthless and cunning John Sullivan, the wealthiest landowner in the region and their father’s former employer. Sullivan gathers a posse led by the dangerous and fascinating Inspector Edmund Noone and his Queensland Native Police, an infamous arm of British colonial power charged with the "dispersal" of indigenous Australians to "protect" white settler rights. As they ride across the barren outback in pursuit, their harsh and horrifying journey will have a devastating impact on Tommy, tormenting him for the rest of his life—and will hold enduring consequences for a young country struggling to come into its own.
Recreating a period of Australian and British history as evocative and violent as the American frontier era, Only Killers and Thieves is an unforgettable story of family, guilt, empire, race, manhood, and faith that combines the insightfulness of Philipp Meyer’s The Son, the atmospheric beauty of Amanda Coplin’s The Orchardist, and the raw storytelling power of Ian McGuire’s The North Water.
Paul Howarth was born and grew up in Great Britain before moving to Melbourne in his late twenties. He lived in Australia for more than six years, gained dual citizenship in 2012, and now lives in Norwich, United Kingdom, with his family. In 2015, he received a master’s degree from the University of East Anglia’s creative writing program, the most prestigious course of its kind in the UK, where he was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury Scholarship.
Historical fiction fanatics are in for a Valentine’s treat this month, with seven historical novels to choose from. Pick a locale, and there’s something for everyone, from the wild west of Civil War-era Texas, to 1880s and 1950s Australia, to 1970s Alaska, to 1980s Harlem and the rise of ball culture at the House of […]
For more than 25 years, the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program has worked to identify and amplify the voices of those new authors writing books with the potential to change readers’ lives. Each year, our selection committee, made up of smart, engaged, and incredibly well-read booksellers, pores over piles of new releases […]
The winners of Barnes & Noble’s 2018 Discover Awards have been announced! In the fiction category, Paul Howarth’s Only Killers and Thieves took the honor, and in nonfiction, Kiese Laymon went home with the prize for his memoir Heavy. Each writer was awarded a cash prize of $30,000 and a full year of marketing and merchandising support […]
The booksellers who sit on the selection committee for our Discover Great New Writers program are always on the hunt for the next great read. Our Spring 2018 picks are a mix of novels, memoir, travel writing, women’s studies, and essays. We have the perfect recommendation for readers who loved bestsellers like The Interestings, by Meg […]