Vernal Equinox: Cowboys Come Home by Monte Dutton

Ennis Middlebrooks and Harry Byerly are warriors, and the time for fighting is past. They’re cowboys, and when they get back home to Texas, the time for cowboys is passing, too.
Monte Dutton’s fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, begins on the island of Peleliu, where the two privates somehow manage to save themselves when cut off from their fellow Marines by the Japanese. Ennis and Harry come home to a hero’s welcome, but life gets complicated after that.
The Middlebrooks ranch, east of Janus, near the Oklahoma border, is rundown, and Ennis’s father is dying. Harry moves in, Mama Middlebrooks moves out, and Ennis takes a job as a deputy sheriff under a wise but aging lawman, Judson Lawson. His little sister, Becky, is wild beyond her years and takes an immediate shine to Harry, who is haunted by the war and prone to violence.
The closing of an Army base, Camp Ammons, is causing the town to die. The county loses nearly forty thousand infantry trainees and gains nearly sixty thousand acres. The ranchers it displaced are either long gone or too poor to purchase their land back. Men with political clout and money move in like vultures. Money buys influence and, with it, elections. Ennis Middlebrooks goes from sheriff in waiting to disgraced lawman.
He and his old Marine pal, Harry Byerly, decide to do something about it.


Cowboys Come Home is Monte Dutton’s fifth novel and first western. The Clinton, South Carolina resident spent twenty years traveling around the country writing about NASCAR and other sports. He has written non-fiction books on NASCAR, high school football and music. Dutton’s fiction debut was The Audacity of Dope (2011), a political thriller about a musician who becomes a reluctant hero in the midst of an election year. The Intangibles (2013) was set in a Southern small town in the late 1960s. Crazy of Natural Causes (2015) described the fall of a Kentucky football coach and his unique reinvention. Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016) told the story of a corrupt politician and a cop determined to stop him. An amateur musician, Dutton expanded eleven of his songs into short stories for the collection Longer Songs (2016). Dutton is a graduate of Furman University.

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