Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Only Killers and Thieves

Two adolescent brothers are exposed to the brutal realities of life and the seductive cruelty of power after a tragedy shatters their family in this riveting debut novel—a story of savagery and race, injustice and honor set in the untamed frontier of 1880s Australia—reminiscent of Philipp Meyer’s The Son and the novels of Cormac McCarthyAn epic Western, a tough coming-of-age story, and a tension-laden tale of survival, Only Killers and Thie...

Details Only Killers and Thieves

TitleOnly Killers and Thieves
Release DateFeb 6th, 2018
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Westerns, Cultural, Australia

Reviews Only Killers and Thieves

  • Will Byrnes
    The guilt is collective, the responsibility shared. In a hundred years no one will even remember what happened here and certainly no one will care. History is forgetting. Afterward we write the account, the account becomes truth, and we tell ourselves it has always been this way, that others were responsible, that there was nothing we could have done. Australia, 1885, drought-stricken central Queensland. The McBrides struggle to scratch a living...
  • Julie
    Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth is a 2018 Harper publication. Absorbing coming of age tale of two brothers who took different paths in the harsh scrublands of Australia in the 1800’s- When Billy and Tommy find their parents brutally murdered and their sister barely clinging to life, they make an uneasy bargain with the rich landowner, their father had not trusted, to hunt down the man accused of killing their family.There is a horribl...
  • Jill
    Oh my. Where should I begin? Perhaps here: it is not yet 2018 and this book has already earned a secure place on my Best of 2018 list. It is a searing indictment of racism, and injustice, a glowing tribute to the part of us that struggles to remain human in the worst of circumstances, and a riveting testimony to the power of the writer.I’ve seen this book compared to Philipp Meyer’s The Son and the works of Cormac McCarthy, but to me, the mos...
  • Faith
    This book is a coming of age story, a western, a depiction of Australia's racist past and a really good book. Blurbs generally oversell, but in this case I believe that the comparison of this book to the work of Philipp Meyer and Cormac McCarthy is justified, although I liked this book a lot more than I liked "The Son" by Meyer. In 1885 Tommy (14) and Billy (16) McBride live on a Queensland cattle ranch with their sister Mary (11) and their paren...
  • Jennifer Lynn Harrison
    ***UPDATE***--- I have decided that I simply enjoyed this book too darn much to leave it as a 4 star rating, and want to tell the world I hereby give it the fabled '4.5' rating! (Alas, the uneven ending can't allow the full 5). Also, I liked this book enough that I need to take some real time, return to this page and write a much longer, full, detailed review. This book has earned one. --Jen from Quebec :0) (Feb 27th, 2018)WOW! For a debut novel,...
  • Lisa
    This book (IMO) is THE BEST book I think that I’ve read so far in 2018. With that said, this book won’t be for everyone. I’m a western type of girl. I love western movies and tv! This is a different type of western set in 1880’s Australia. The writing is fantastic!! The story is heartbreaking but so poignant. The characters come alive with raw emotion and ego! Often situations are difficult to read but necessary for the time and life of t...
  • Cynthia
    Only Killers and Thieves is a personal reading highlight for 2017. The blurb on the back of the cover compares Howarth to Philipp Meyer and Cormac McCarthy. I’ve become leery when I read such comparisons because I’ve been disappointed so many times and though I haven’t read Meyers I have read Cormac McCarthy and loved his writing. In this case the comparison of Howard’s to McCarthy is apt in that they both write on the edges of what is al...
  • Roger Brunyate
     The Devil in the Mind Men fear that which is alien, that which they cannot control. Hence most are afraid of certain animals, predators, those they cannot tame. In this country that would be snakes, dingos to an extent, but mostly the wild native. It is remarkable really, to see how afraid you all are. They have become like the Devil in the minds of white men. Goodreads has you choose shelves for books you review. I am making a new one for this...
  • Lou
    “. . . they’ve the Devil in them, Tommy, they’re naught but killers and thieves.”Doings and undoings, survival, war, blood, and loss set in motion.An unsettling relevant timeless tale coming out of Australia.Tommy and Billy were fourteen and sixteen years old caught in a web of doings, some done complicitly in the whirlwind of there minds in the blood and thunder of events. The fates of the two brothers and a community of people a hook...
  • Jill
    I just finished Only Killers and Thieves, and I’m heartbroken to be at the end. I was hesitant to read it, because it's clear by reading the description that this wild west saga set in 19th century Queensland will be violent & cruel which is not my favorite. Even though there is brutality which is painful to read, this is a gorgeous story. I was especially impressed by how convincingly the different characters were written. Tommy is a teenager ...
  • Laura
    Somewhat slow start but gains speed. Nasty and violent characters....thus the title is perfect. Superb, debut novel.
  • Mark
    “The frontier crossing turned Tommy's gut. Their passing from settled land to wild. All his life he feared it, the uncharted west, looming like a shadow on the edge of the world.”It is 1885, Queensland, in the Australian outback. The McBride family are struggling to survive on a drought-ridden piece of land. There are two teenage sons and a younger daughter. When tragedy strikes the family, the sons are set adrift and take refuge with John Su...
  • Dax
    A predictable result, but that doesn’t hurt the enjoyment of this novel. Crisp writing accompanied with clipped dialogue. Noone and Tommy are great characters and their interactions carry this novel (well, that, and all the terrible bloodshed). It’s fun to watch Tommy develop from boy into a man who has seen and participated in some terrible stuff. A fun and excellent read.
  • Mary Lins
    “Only Killers and Thieves”, by first time novelist, Paul Howarth, has been compared to Philipp Meyer’s, “The Son”, and Paulette Jiles’, “News of the World”; masterpieces both, I’d also say that it has a “whiff” of Steinbeck’s, “East of Eden”, and though it is beautifully written and an arresting tale, it’s is not quite up to these lofty comparisons.Set in the harsh edge of the Australian Outback of the late Nineteent...
  • Robert Intriago
    An Australian Western that has everything that an American counterpart has with exception that the natives being killed are Aborigines and not Native Americans. Beautifully written with some well-developed characters. The descriptions are so vivid that you feel at times you are participating in the action. That action tends to be brutal and the descriptions very raw. The story revolves around the coming of age of two brothers who have suffered a ...
  • Marilyn
    I received a copy of Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth in a goodeads give away in exchange for an honest review. To be fair, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy reading this book when I first read what it was about. However, once I started reading it I had a hard time putting it down. I didn't know much about Australia's history during this time period. Paul Howarth did an excellent job describing the terrain of the Australian outback durin...
  • Nikola
    3.5 starsYou can also find this review on my book blog. What attracted me to this book was that it’s something different from what I usually read. I wanted to challenge myself and discover a new genre to see how I will perceive it.The year is 1885, the location Queensland, Australia where racial tensions and land-owning have become big issues. We meet Tommy and his brother Billy who live with their parents and sister Mary on land which their f...
  • Bonnie Brody
    This amazing book takes place in late nineteenth century Australia in a remote location that is barely settled and has suffered drought for so long that everything is covered with a coat of dust. The McBride family has been trying to make a go of ranching but things are looking very bleak. One day the two boys, Tommy and Billy McBride, go out for a ride and come home to find their parents murdered and their younger sister Mary very close to death...
  • Stephanie
    I read a lot of historical fiction but this is the first that I have read that is set in Australia and also the one with the biggest impact. It is set in Queensland in 1885 at a troubling time with the white settlers determined to remove the Indigenous Australians from the land that they want for their own. I had heard of the horrific events that had happened but I had never heard of the role that the Native Police played.It is a fascinating book...
  • Lois
    Almost 4.5. Quite timely, in a way, given That Man the President's address to the Coast Guard Academy and how we 'tamed' the country. This is the saga of two brothers growing up much too fast in the Australian outback at a time of Native people's genocide and the toll it takes. Not at all a happy story but very well written and evocative and deeply human
  • Amy
    I made it half-way and had to stop. It was SOOOOOOOO boring. It is also loaded with the "n-word". It is totally not for me.
  • Jackie Law
    “Listen to me now. I’m going to tell you what will happen if we were to let that man live. He will hate us. Not only you and I personally, but all white men.”“Remember, he will breed also. He will produce a dozen heirs, all with this hatred in their blood.”“It is laughable, the ignorance of the educated classes, sitting in their parlours and their clubs. The blacks don’t want to integrate. They want us to leave. So either we domesti...
  • Kathleen (QueenKatieMae)
    Only Killers and Thieves is an incredibly dark and powerful novel set in the terrible beauty of the Australian Outback, specifically Queensland, an endless desert plain, blistering hot and prone to year-long droughts. While the frontier wars between the European immigrants and the Aboriginal tribes were intense, the massacres in Queensland were the bloodiest. It was a dark and violent time when even the most honorable people did terrible things a...
  • Kimberley
    Paul Howarth can spin a tale. There’s no denying his ability as a writer, but the chosen content was tough to read—no matter how much historical truth there is to back him up. Tommy and Billy are forced to grow up quickly after discovering their parents murdered, and their younger sister left for dead, on their modest homestead.From there, Howarth takes the reader on a twisted, despicable, bounty hunt for the “killers and thieves” that le...
  • Amy
    Now *that* was a brutal book to read, but it was beautifully written, in a style that felt perfectly suited for the stark setting. Set in the Australian outback at the end of the 19th century, centering around one family’s conflicts with crooked and powerful neighbors, cruel and aggressive Native Police aiming to eradicate the aboriginal people, the killing drought, and with each other. One poor judgment leads to another, foolish choices end in...
  • Sara floerke
    Compelling. Exciting. Sensationalized. I know people use the word "gritty" a lot, but Howarth's writing makes the Australian geography come alive in a way in which I swear I've got dust in my teeth and my eyes are squinting from the sun's glare. And I feel like I've been wearing the same grimy, stiff clothes for three weeks. He also somehow is able to capture a 15 year old boy's thoughts and emotions, conveying pain, sorrow and sadness without ta...
  • Katherine
    I am not generally a fan of westerns, or of violent books, so I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this one. I ended up enjoying it more than I expected. There are beautifully written parts of this book and I loved how the location is described. I really felt immersed in the setting - the dry heat, emptiness and the desolation. Such a hard place to try to survive. I found the violence in the book very hard to read, but I enjoyed seeing Tommy's charac...
  • Threasa
    I won this book on Goodreads, and it is a very good book. Mr. Howarth takes a very disturbing story from 1880s Australia to tell us. Two teenage boys go swimming one day. When they come back, their parents have been killed, and their sister is barely hanging on. They get help from a landowner who didn't get along with their father. Billy, the older brother, tells the man that the blacks killed his parents. The rest of the book shows how horribly ...
  • Lillian
    Paul Howarth has quite an impressive command of language. This is a story that has come to us many times in other iterations yet the author has populated this novel with some intriguing characters. Individually, they all seem to represent some facet of human nature. There is one central character in particular who just may be the frightening part of all of us and is what makes this more than just another western.Only Killers and Thieves is an eng...
  • Hpnyknits
    The audiobook version was good, and helped keep the different people apart. The family saga was heartbreaking, and at times predictable in the motives of the “bad” guys. The parallels between the treatment of the indigenous people of America and Australia, are known, but the author was able to bring to life the cultural acceptance of those practices. What is always interesting, is how some are able to rise above the racism.