Clifford Jackman’s remarkably assured historical novel, The Winter Family (Doubleday, $25.95), recounts the exploits of a gang of former union soldiers turned outlaws in the years following the Civil War. Led by the charismatic, golden-eyed Augustus Winter, whose devotion to violence approaches the mystical, the “Winter Family” flees from certain court martial at the end of the war and heads west. The family quickly builds a reputation for savagery, from busting heads during a vicious Chicago election, to collecting Apache scalps in the Arizona Territory. As it must, Jackman’s meditation on violence and the dark recesses of human nature owes a debt to Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, but it simmers with a potency all its own.
—Patrick Millikin, editor of Phoenix Noir