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Spur Award Winners

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Migrant Mother: How a Photograph Defined the Great Depression
by Don Nardo Details
Winner of Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction. The author explores and analyzes the historical context and significance of the iconic Dorothea Lange photograph of a migrant mother during the Great Depression.
A Light in the Wilderness
by Jane Kirkpatrick Details
Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she will follow her husband anywhere. Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill. (Finalist: Best Western Historical Novel 2015)
by Michael McGarrity Details
Catapulted into early adulthood after the death of an older brother he idolized, eight-year-old Matthew Kerney assumes difficult responsibilities to save the family ranch against a backdrop of the Great Depression and a drought-stricken Tularosa Basin. Finalist for best western historical novel 2015.
Dance with the Devil
by JD March Details
Johnny Fierro's a gunfighter, maybe the best. He's hunted trouble and a reputation all his life. But the killings and the range wars have worn him out and brought him to a point where he would welcome death--until he hears that his estranged and hated father faces a battle to hold onto his land in the Cimarron Valley. Fierro has sworn to kill his father and this is too good an opportunity to miss. What he hasn't bargained for is a share of the ranch, or a brother he never knew existed. While his upright, authoritarian father and Harvard-educated brother struggle to come to terms with his violent past and vicious reputation, Fierro wrestles with the unwelcome realization that his mother didn't tell him the whole story about the past. He doesn't know what to believe, but he has to make a choice when the bullets start flying. (Finalist: Best Western Traditional Novel)
The Poacher's Daughter
by Michael Zimmer Details
In 1885, young Rose Edwards is widowed by Montana vigilantes who hang her husband for an alleged theft, then burn her Yellowstone Valley cabin to the ground as a warning for her and others of her kind to quit the territory. Penniless and illiterate, yet fiercely independent, Rose begins a two-year odyssey to revisit the land of her childhood, a land she once traveled with her father, an itinerant robe trader among the Assiniboines and Blackfeet. (Finalist: Best Western Traditional Novel 2015)
Wild Ran the Rivers
by James D. Crownover Details
Ruth Harris and her younger brother, Jerry, who are of mixed Cherokee and white heritage, head down the Ohio with their parents to settle new country, perhaps in Arkansas. Pirates kill their parents, and the kids become captives on a Mississippi River island. Ruth is forced into marriage with a ne'er-do-well and bears his child; Jerry seems destined to become a pirate. Then the New Madrid earthquake of 1811 intervenes. (Winner: Best First Novel).
Crossing Purgatory
by Gary Schanbacher Details
A young farmer in 1858 sets out across the American frontier in an attempt to deal with his guilt at not being home to prevent a devastating family tragedy and finds himself tested in ways he hadn't imagined. Winner of the 2014 Spur Award for Best Western Traditional Novel.
Destiny Made them Brothers
by Andrew J. Fenady Details
They met on the battlefields of Vicksburg. General Ulysses S. Grant, George Armstrong Custer, and the Rebel Johnny Yuma. Three men united by fate - in a nation divided by war - they were dedicated to freedom, driven to extremes, and destined for greatness. Finalist: Best Traditional Western Novel 2014
Greasy Grass: A Story of Little Big Horn
by Johnny D Boggs Details
Boggs brings the events and personalities of Little Big Horn to life in a series of first-hand accounts. Finalist in the 2014 Best Western Historical Novel category.
Series -
Kind of Kin
by Rilla Askew Details
Complications arise throughout his family when churchgoing and respected community member Robert John Brown's caught hiding a barnful of migrant workers with no papers. 2014 Best Western Contemporary Finalist.
Spider Woman's Daughter
by Anne Hillerman Details
When one of her colleagues is gunned down, Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manality helps her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee, find the shooter and discovers a link to a cold case involving Jim's former boss and partner, Inspector Joe Leaphorn. Winner of 2014 Spur Award: Best First Novel.
The Promise
by Ann Weisgarber Details
1900. Young pianist Catherine Wainwright flees the fashionable town of Dayton, Ohio in the wake of a terrible scandal. Heartbroken and facing destitution, she finds herself striking up correspondence with a childhood admirer, the recently widowed Oscar Williams. In desperation she agrees to marry him. But when Catherine travels to Oscar's farm on Galveston Island, Texas - a thousand miles from home - she finds she is little prepared for the life that awaits her. Finalist: Best Western Historical Novel
Country of the Bad Wolfes
by James Carlos Blake Details
Two generations of Wolfe men--begat by an English pirate in New Hampshire in 1828--track their violent but manifest destiny through the Diaz Regime in Mexico in the early 1900s and back to Gulf Coast Texas. The novel centers on two sets of identical "hero twins," each with a violent history that mirror the author's belief on the primacy of violence in the evolution of civilization. Their lives are intertwined with important events through the history of the United States, beginning in the 1820s. Crucial are the histories of the infamous Saint Patrick's Battalion (revered in Mexico as "los San Patricios") who deserted the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the rise and fall of Porfirio Diaz Regime (1876-1910), which marked the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. Finalist 2013 Best Western Long Novel.
Double Crossing
by Megan Mims Details
In August 1869, Lily Granville is stunned by her father's murder. Only one other person knew about a valuable California gold mine deed. Determined to track down her father's killer, Lily heads west on the newly opened transcontinental railroad and soon realizes she is not the hunter - she's the prey. Who can Lily trust? The China-bound missionary who wants to marry her, or the wandering Texan who offers to protect her for a price?Best First Novel Winner 2013
Lonesome Animals
by Bruce Holbert Details
Arthur Strawl, a tormented former lawman, is called out of retirement to hunt a serial killer with a sense of the macabre who has been leaving elaborately carved bodies of Native Americans across three counties. As the pursuit ensues, Strawl's own dark and violent history weaves itself into the hunt. (Best Western Short Novel Finalist 2013)
Feast Day of Fools
by James L Burke Details
Interviewing an alcoholic Native American who witnessed a murder along the Texas-Mexico border, Sheriff Hack Holland and his deputy, Sam Tibbs, recognize the work of serial killer Preacher Jack Collins in an investigation that is assisted by the enigmatic Anton Ling. 2012 finalist for best western long novel.
Legacy of a Lawman: A Western Story
by Johnny D. Boggs Details
Winner of Spur Award for Best Western Short Novel. Bass Reeves is a man of color and a deputy United States marshal. When Bass's son shoots down his unarmed wife who had been cheating on him and then disappears, the U.S. Marshal has reservations about handing the warrant to Bass. But for Bass there is no reservation. His son has broken the law and is a fugitive.
Remember Ben Clayton: A Novel
by Stephen Harrigan Details
Winner of Spur Award for Best Western Long Novel. Exiled to Texas with his grown daughter, sculptor Francis "Gil" Gilheaney is commissioned to create a statue for a man who recently lost his son in WWI. But as work on the statue progresses, secrets slowly reveal themselves and Gil's fragile family threads begin to fray.
West Texas Kill
by Johnny D. Boggs Details
Winner of Spur Award for Best Original Mass Market Paperback. The harsh lands between the Pecos River and the Rio Grande are ruled by renegade Texas Ranger Captain Hector Savage. Into this realm rides Ranger Dave Chance with a prisoner shackled to his side. An honest ranger, Sergeant Chance determines to deliver the locals from Savage's bloody reign. But to succeed against such long odds, Chance must do the unthinkable -- unshackle and arm his prisoner.
The Mormon Rebellion: America's First Civil War, 1857-1858
by David L. Bigler Details
Winner of Spur Award for Best Western Nonfiction Historical. In 1857, President Buchanan ordered US troops to Utah to replace Brigham Young as governor and restore order in the territory. Bigler, former director of the Utah Board of State History, and Bagley, an independent historian of the West, use long-suppressed sources to show that, contrary to common perceptions, the Mormon rebellion was not the result of Buchanan's "blunder," nor was it a David-and-Goliath tale in which an abused religious minority heroically defied the unjust government. The authors argue that Mormon leaders fully intended to establish an independent nation in the West.
Tornado Slim and the Magic Cowboy Hat
by Bryan Langdo Details
Winner of Spur Storyteller Award. A coyote asks Tornado Slim to deliver a letter to the sheriff of Fire Gulch City, giving him his special hat as incentive, and as disasters along the trip begin to pile up, Slim discovers that the hat is indeed special.
Updated 09/16/2015

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