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IN BRIEF

Fiction

April 21, 1991|Don G. Campbell

REFUGIO, THEY NAMED YOU WRONG by Susan Clark Schofield (Algonquin Books: $17.95; 201 pp). Don't be misled by the title. Refugio isn't the protagonist of this excellent Western novel but is, wryly, the name of the one county in Texas where the protagonist, Peter Jack Costello, can find neither refuge nor mercy--where a murder warrant is outstanding charging him with the murder of his father and mentally impaired older brother (a bum rap, but never mind). The time is 1884 and the setting is the Mexican-Texas border where this lonely, complex and thoroughly sympathetic young cowboy drifts from cattle job to cattle job--and then a love affair that has promise but fades out, a betrayal, an ambush and a gunfight, multiple rattlesnake bites that almost do him in, an encounter with a Bible-thumping homesteader and his pregnant wife. You can feel the rawness of the cold Texas winter spent alone in a prairie dugout. This is a remarkable first novel that brings absolutely fascinating people together against a vividly real background. Not to be missed.

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