Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Kings of Colorado, by David E. Hilton

William Sheppard had never ventured beyond his Chicago neighborhood until, at thirteen, he was sent away to a boys reformatory ranch in Colorado for stabbing his abusive father in the chest with a pocketknife.

Despite the lack of fences or gates, the boundaries are clear: the boys are prisoners, living a several-day hike from civilization in a place with one access road, that's closed all winter. Oh. And anyone attempting to escape will be tracked down and shot.

If you enjoy reading thrillers, put Kings of Colorado on your summer reading list. The writing will easily pull you into the story and keep you turning pages when you're wondering how much more gruesome the plot can get.


From Publishers Weekly

Hilton debuts with a stark novel of violence and fierce friendship in a 1960s Colorado juvenile penitentiary. After 13-year-old Will Sheppard stabs his abusive father while trying to protect his mother, he's sent to Swope Boys Reformatory, a work ranch where the only rule of law is that of a greedy warden, corrupt guards, and vicious fellow inmates, the worst of them a boy named Silas Green. Shepherd befriends a few boys--Coop the literary mind, Benny the kid with the big heart, and Mickey the ornery runt with an ironclad outer shell--and they must all survive the brutishness of head guard Frank Croft and the nihilism of Silas and his cronies while doing back-breaking labor in the horse stables and out in the fields. Hilton's portrayal of adolescent friendship is authentic and touching, and the story moves at a speedy pace as the boys' innocence is shattered in ever deeper and more profound ways. While the writing can flirt with melodrama, the characters are well drawn and their trials are harrowing, a sort of Stand by Me behind bars. (Jan.)
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