One of Amazon's Top 100 Books of the Year One of Library Journal's High-Profile Debuts “The Last Cowboys of the San Geronimo is a contemporary Western with biblical implications chocked with passion, regret and the things that work on you like a burr under a saddle blanket. Ian Stansel has written a novel that shares the trail with the likes of Edward Abbey, Cormac McCarthy, and Larry McMurtry.” —Craig Johnson, New York Times-bestselling author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries, the basis for Netflix original series Longmire "A taut and powerful modern Western. I picked up The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo and did not put it down again until I had read the last, moving sentence. Follow Lena on horseback as she pursues a killer through the wilds of Northern California, and in the end you will find yourself someplace unexpected. One of the most compelling novels I’ve read in a long time." —Eowyn Ivey, author of the To the Bright Edge of the World and the Pulitzer finalist The Snow Child "Written with the headlong pace of the cross-country manhunt it describes, The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo fuses the classic Cain-and-Abel tale with the gripping tension of a modern revenge thriller. From the groomed world of equestrian eventing to the tough mountain trails of Northern California, Ian Stansel sends a resilient horsewoman in blood-hot pursuit of personal justice, and at the same time shows us that the redemptive partnership of horse and rider can transcend even the most bitter of animosities." —Malcolm Brooks, author of Painted Horses “Ian Stansel's debut dives headlong into the anachronism of the modern cowboy—a beautiful and brutal novel about time: the expanse of it, the burden of it, but, more than anything, the crushing realization when it grows short.” —James Scott, author of The Kept “Although set in the twentieth-first century, this fine novel has a mythic power and resonance. Ian Stansel is a gifted young writer who starts his novel at a gallop and never lets up until the story's final reckoning.” —Ron Rash, author of Serena, Above the Waterfall, The Risen, and more "Ian Stansel’s debut novel is so rich in evocative detail and gripping incident that I thought at several moments I was riding fast next to its sharply drawn characters across rough ground. Like All the Pretty Horses before it, The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo inks an indelible portrait of a hard, gorgeous world that is both timeless and in deep, momentous flux. I’m grateful to Mr. Stansel for having written it.” —Laird Hunt, author of Neverhome and The Evening Road “With his debut novel, The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo, Ian Stansel confidently updates the American Western while honoring its most daring storytellers: Charles Portis and Larry McMurtry. In taut, cinematic prose, Stansel considers the romance of frontier justice, the seductive power of a good old-fashioned horse chase/manhunt and the heartbreaking costs of fraternal rivalry. For me, the true star of The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo is Lena Van Loy, a stoic horsewoman who emerges as a fearless rider, a clear-headed tracker and a compassionate but avenging wife. With plenty of true grit, plot twists and reversals of fortune, The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo builds toward an unforgettable showdown. A great read beautifully written!” —Amber Dermont, New York Times-bestselling author of The Starboard Sea and Damage Control “Beautifully rendered . . . A captivating novel, elegantly spare in language but big in purpose.”—Library Journal, *starred* review “A fierce and luminous study of sibling rivalry and complicated love, intensified by the rush of hooves.”—Library Journal, Pre-pub Alert “Stansel writes well and moves effortlessly from past to present and from the perspectives of Silas and Frank to that of Lena. A stirring narrative of hostility, pursuit, and the desire for vengeance.”—Kirkus Reviews “Stansel updates the age-old family feud in a surprisingly poignant way . . . powerful . . . a fast-paced, moving narrative in which family loyalty is tested, broken and redeemed in unexpected ways.”—BookPage “To find a story set in the horse world, entwined with horses and horse people, yet without reading like the typical 'horse book'? That’s a rare thing indeed. That’s exactly the balance that Ian Stansel has struck with care in his novel . . . The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo is one of the most riveting books I’ve picked up in a long time.”—HorseNation “Extremely impressive and eminently readable . . . One of those rare books that is relatively short yet seems much deeper and longer in all the best possible ways . . . A joy to read from beginning to end.”—Bookreporter
After murdering his brother, Silas Van Loy gets on his horse and heads north, followed closely by Lena Van Loy, his brother’s wife. Lena (and the faithful stable assistant who accompanies her) seeks justice, and as they chase Silas through the mountainous landscape of present day Northern California, Stansel’s rhapsodic debut novel reveals the history of the Van Loy family—the rise and fall of their renowned horse training business, the rivalry that simultaneously binds the brothers together and pushes them apart, and Lena’s powerlessness to control or end the relentless feud. The book draws upon many of the western genre’s finest traditions: a bitter and inescapable rivalry, a narrative propelled by the pursuit of justice, a reverence for the powerful relationship between horse and rider. But in many other ways, the story stands apart: Silas and Lena’s travels through the rugged Californian terrain are punctuated not by shoot-outs or high-speed chases, but powerful memories and meditations on partnership, rivalry, regret, and redemption. Stansel’s debut is a moving exploration of the complicated and fateful bonds of brotherhood. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (July)
In his forthright, beautifully rendered first novel, following the PEN/Bingham Prize-winning story collection Everyone's Irish, Stansel limns the murderous tension between two brothers, showing how families can fracture for mysterious reasons. Frank and Silas Van Loy grow up on their father's Northern California ranch, but while Silas is the true horseman, arrogant Frank has the head for business and takes over as their father slowly succumbs to cancer, successfully turning the ranch to English riding. The novel opens with Silas shooting Frank to death, then leaping on a horse and escaping into the wilderness, furiously pursued by Frank's wife, Lena. As the novel unfolds, we learn how the brothers have sought to undermine each other, often coming violently to blows. Yet they remain tightly bound, and though we gain some sympathy for sour Silas as the taut relationship is revealed in flashback, his reason for shooting Frank comes as an affecting and effective surprise. VERDICT The occasional scene seems extended, and readers will anxiously wonder whether these horse-loving fools would hurt their charges for revenge, yet Stansel has written a captivating novel, elegantly spare in language but big in purpose. [See Prepub Alert, 2/13/17.]
A contemporary tale of two brothers, both horse trainers and rivals, and the tragedy that ensues when one kills the other.Silas and Frank Van Loy have a complicated relationship. They're both a bit wild, a bit co-dependent, and more than a bit antagonistic toward each other. The novel opens immediately after Silas, the younger brother, has shot and killed Frank. He flees on horseback, for him a natural mode of transportation, over the landscape of Marin County in northern California. At least two issues complicate the psychology, the ethics, and the logistics of this fraternal relationship and murder. First, Frank was married to Lena, who hates Silas. When she finds out what happened, she takes off in pursuit, also on horseback, with the intent to kill him. Second, when we finally see Frank and Silas' final confrontation, toward the end of the book, the shooting turns out to have been less vengeful than it seemed. The narrative moves briskly on a number of levels. While we follow Lena's pursuit of Silas, we also get generous flashbacks into the brothers' lives, especially their rivalry in the world of horse training (Silas' career was thriving while Frank's was declining) and the almost unaccountable depth of their hatred (earlier Frank had shot Silas, and on the surface, their argument had been about a Stetson hat). Stansel writes well and moves effortlessly from past to present and from the perspectives of Silas and Frank to that of Lena. A stirring narrative of hostility, pursuit, and the desire for vengeance.