The Oklahoma Territory was a bleak, brutal place in 1894, and Speer Morgan’s compelling novel begins, appropriately enough, with a botched public hanging. Witnessing this unsettling ritual is Tom Freshour, a striking half-Indian who knows nothing of the world beyond the orphanage where he’s been raised by a sadistic minister. But Tom is about to get a bracing education, thanks especially to two people: Jake Jaycox, an aging hardware salesman who takes Tom under his wing, and Samantha King, a beautiful, mysterious woman who attaches herself to the two men and promptly seduces Tom.
The wild and bawdy adventures of this colorful trio begin with a horrific flood, but the story turns darker when Tom and his companions run afoul of a scheme to steal thousands of acres from depression-ravaged farmers. Before long, they are being chased by a hired killer; meanwhile, Tom’s searing memories of his childhood drive him back to the orphanage and a violent confrontation with the man who made him a whipping boy. Ultimately, Tom learns that the real villains in this unforgiving territory are not the outlaws with six-guns but the heartless businessmen who will do anything to amass wealth and property.
In the tradition of Pete Dexter’s Deadwood, this is a richly imagined yarn about frontier life by a superb storyteller. Remarkable for its suspense, rich characterization, and seamless prose, The Whipping Boy is both a hugely entertaining tale and an utterly fresh evocation of a legendary American landscape.
“The Whipping Boy is full of rich delights, particularly for those readers who fear that, in these literary times, a serious writer with a cogent vision of the world has to secure those things by giving up his storytelling soul. Speer Morgan has it both ways, with a novel that is compelling and resonant. I enjoyed this book immensely.”
— Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
“Speer Morgan has taken full advantage of the Old West yarn, giving us beguiling heroes we can root for, ugly villains we can hiss, and a highly original plot with as many twists and turns as a hillside mule path. The Whipping Boy is a fresh and exciting book.”
— Ron Hansen, author of Mariette in Ecstasy
“Here is the real West in its lurid twilight — the Oklahoma Indian Territory when the last land grab was under way. Here too is a good mystery, a bawdy romance, and characters with blood, not ink, in their veins. Every vignette of frontier life — flood, train wreck, blizzard, bank, brothel, or church — is authentic. Forget L’Amour; what really happened is so much better, and done here by a better hand.”
— Will Baker, author of Hell, West, and Crooked
“In a tale as plainspoken as a country conversation and as relentless as a prairie wind, Morgan tells of a young man’s search for wholeness in a time when the violence of the American frontier was giving way to a new kind of lawlessness. The Whipping Boy brings alive the pain and shame of a little-read chapter of history, when greed ruled, thievery wore a frock coat, and guile was the governing virtue.”
— Charles Gueswelle, columnist, Kansas City Star
“With The Whipping Boy, Speer Morgan delivers a rollicking page-turner. I read it once with a fierce compulsion to find out what would happen, a second time for the pleasure of the language and craft.”
— Wally Lamb, author of She’s Come Undone
Ratings and Reviews
Be the first to rate and review this book!
You've already shared your review for this item. Thanks!
We are currently reviewing your submission. Thanks!
The Whipping Boy
by Speer Morgan
Share your thoughts
Tell readers what you thought by rating and reviewing this book.
Rate it *
Please make sure to choose a rating
Add a review* Required
How to write a great review
- Say what you liked best and least
- Describe the author's style
- Explain the rating you gave
- Use rude and profane language
- Include any personal information
- Mention spoilers or the book's price
- Recap the plot
(0) 50 characters minimum
The review must be at least 50 characters long.
The title should be at least 4 characters long.
Display Name *
Your display name should be at least 2 characters long.
Report a review
Would you like us to take another look at this review?
You've successfully reported this review. We appreciate your feedback.
The Whipping Boy
by Speer Morgan
Thanks for Sharing!
by on September 26, 2016
- Speer Morgan, March 2010
- Download options:
- EPUB 2 (DRM-Free)
You can read this item using any of the following Kobo apps and devices: