1873. Under a full moon, two Assiniboine Indians rustle twenty horses from a group of sleeping white men, wolf hunters taking in their pelts to trade. This sets the scene for two parallel narratives. One is the haunting story of a young drifter known as 'the Englishman's boy' who joins the wolf hunters en route north to Canada on the trail of the horse thieves. Vanderhaeghe's rendering of the stark, dramatic beauty of the landscape becomes a perfect backdrop for vivid scenes of action, adventure and violence. The other story is set in 1920s Hollywood, where Harry Vincent, a struggling young hack writer in a movie studio, is plucked from obscurity by the enigmatic studio head, Damon Ira Chance. Vincent is enlisted to find the elusive old-time Western actor, Shorty McAdoo. Chance believes McAdoo will be able to provide him with the authentic material he needs to fulfil his grand artistic vision to make the big film about the American West. But Chance has a darker ambition and the story Vincent painfully extracts brings the two narratives together in a brutal climax.
At the heart of this unforgettable novel is McAdoo, who, lured to Hollywood by easy money, is dreadfully - tragically - betrayed.
Guy Vanderhaeghe is the author of six books of fiction. THE ENGLISHMAN'S BOY (1996) was a long-time national bestseller and won the Governor General's Award for Fiction, the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction and for Best Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize.