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The Death and Life of Strother Purcell

The Death and Life of Strother Purcell

The return of the western — with a definite Canadian twist. The man, the myth, the gun-toting legend.

The man, the myth, the one-eyed legend: a frontier epic for fans of Ron Rash and Cormac McCarthy.

In 1876, the fabled lawman Strother Purcell disappears into a winter storm in the mountains of British Columbia, while hunting down his outlawed half-brother. Sixteen years later, the wreck of Purcell resurfaces – derelict, homeless and one-eyed – in a San Francisco jail cell. And a failed journalist named Barrington Weaver conceives a grand redemptive plan. He will write Purcell's true-life story. All it requires is a final act…

What unfolds is an archetypal saga of obsession, lost love, treachery, and revenge, told in Ian Weir's trademark funny, fast, wickedly intelligent style. A deadpan revisionist Western, refracted through a Southern Gothic revenge tragedy, The Death and Life of Strother Purcell is a novel about two cursed brothers, a pair of eldritch orphans, the vexed nature of truth, and the yearnings of that treacherous sonofabitch the human heart.


Ian Weir is a playwright, screenwriter, TV showrunner, and the author of two previously published novels. Daniel O'Thunder was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer'’ Prize for Best First Book, as well as the Canadian Authors Association Award for fiction, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and the amazon.ca First Novel Award. Will Starling was longlisted for the International DUBLIN Literary Award and shortlisted for the Sunburst Award. Among his extensive television credits are his work as creator and showrunner of Arctic Air and as writer and executive producer of the acclaimed gangland miniseries, Dragon Boys.He has won two Geminis, four Leos, a Jessie, and a Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award.

Born in North Carolina, Ian Weir grew up in Kamloops, British Columbia. He now lives near Vancouver.



"A literary exegesis on truth disguised as rollicking, tragic Western entertainment. Cain and Abel and the Sisters Brothers got nothing on towering Strother Purcell and his club-footed half-brother. When lies are this well loved, they transform into truth and truth into history." — Hart Hanson

"A fascinating and insightful commentary on how stories are built and on our determination to see them come to light. Strother strides on the page — epic and tragic — a man trapped in the myths of manhood and gunslinging, a man of a bygone era who cannot allow bygones to be just that." — Claire Mulligan

"Weir takes every trope in the Western's playbook — the one-eyed avenging lawman, the feckless brother, tarts both with and without hearts, gunslingers, gimps, and gamblers — and makes of them something new and utterly wonderful. This wildly entertaining and witty yarn made me gasp, hoot, and holler." — C.C. Humphreys

"Masterfully crafted storytelling, witty and pacy and scratchy with grit. When it comes to the "Canadian Western," Ian Weir thrills and heartbreaks in similar ways as Guy Vanderhaeghe, and if that all sounds like a good time, it is." — Andrew Pyper

392 pages
Pub date: September 4, 2018