An aspiring young cowhand forms an uneasy friendship with an older, expert horse breeder with a troubling inner life in Lee Hoffman's The Valdez Horses.
I discovered Hoffman for the first time earlier this summer, finding a book of hers in a Little Free Library while camping in Michigan. I immediately sought out what is considered her masterwork, this novel, right after.
This book was popular enough that it became the movie Chino starring Charles Bronson, but Hoffman wasn't on my radar nor seems to be on the radar of a lot of readers. A shame, because this is another very solid western whose psychological elements outweigh the trappings of a standard oater.
The Valdez Horses has a very bleak ending, with a surprising uptick of hope in literally the last few words. Just really solid writing that plumbs a lot of emotional depths.
I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana and read it quickly.