Spoon: Robert Greer

In Robert Greer's Western, the bad guys are tough, the good guys are insightful, the hosses are smart, and the ladies are purty.

To what lengths would you go to ensure the safety of your possessions, your land? In the new novel Spoon by Robert Greer, a ranching family gets help in preserving a generations-old way of life from a tumbleweed just passin’ through.

The first time TJ Darley sees Spoon, he’s walking along the interstate with no boots. Arcus Witherspoon had lost his footwear in a poker game, on the way to searching for his roots. Half black, half-Crow or -Cheyenne or something, Spoon needed to know his kin.

The Darleys need help with the Willow Creek Ranch. Marva Darley wants her son to go to college up in Missoula next winter. Bill Darley agrees, even though he intends to pass the ranch on to TJ, just as his own father did for him. And he will go to great lengths indeed to protect what’s his.

Bill Darley resists having a hired man, but Spoon steps up to the challenge, moves into the bunkhouse and quickly makes himself useful. Supposedly, Spoon had the gift of foresight (“The Charm”). Which was lucky for the Darleys — because what Spoon saw in that fall of 1992 was trouble.

All the ranches in that valley, you see, are sitting on one of the biggest coal deposits in the country. Acota, a major company with a bottomless bank account, wanted the rights to mine what was beneath the pastures, but most of the ranchers weren’t willing to ruin their land. And Acota wasn’t taking “no” for an answer.

Tensions increase, and the Darleys start leaning on Spoon’s knowledge, just as he leans on their friendship.

Early on in Greer’s novel, I had my doubts. I mean, an African- American cowpoke with psychic “charming” ability? It sounds like Stereotype City. Fortunately, Spoonas-seer is only a small facet of the novel.

Greer’s Spoon is indeed a tad predictable, though comfort may be just what you’re seeking in a Western. His bad guys are tough hombres, his good guys are insightful, the hosses are smart, and the ladies are purty. At least it brings us Montana a century after the 1890s.

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