Spur Awards - Best Western Novel

The Spur Awards are given annually by the Western Writers of America in a variety of categories including Best Novel of the West and Best Western Novel.

Award Year Authors(s) Title
2012 Stephen Harrigan Remember Ben Clayton
2011 Lucia St. Clair Robinson Last Train from Cuernavaca
2010 Robert Flynn Echoes of Glory A small Texas town bases its pride on the myth of a man's heroism in the Korean War.
2009 Thomas Cobb Shavetail Fleeing a shameful past, seventeen-year-old Ned Thorne joins the U.S. Army and, in 1871, is sent to the dangerous Arizona territories, where he joins his captain and a ragtag troop in the search for a missing woman supposedly kidnapped by the Apache.
2008 Aryn Kyle The God of Animals When her older sister runs away to marry a rodeo cowboy, Alice Winston is left to bear the brunt of her family's troubles - a depressed, bedridden mother; a reticent, overworked father; and a run-down horse ranch. As the hottest summer in fifteen years unfolds and bills pile up, Alice is torn between dreams of escaping the loneliness of her duty-filled life and a longing to help her father mend their family and the ranch.
2007 Elizabeth Crook The Night Journal Meg Mabry has spent her life with her back turned to her legendary family legacy. In the 1890s her great-grandmother Hannah Bass composed starkly revealing diaries of her life on the southwestern frontier, first as a Harvey Girl at the glamorous Montezuma Resort in New Mexico and later as the wife of brilliant, and often absent, railway engineer Elliot Bass. Hannah's daughter Claudia "Bassie" Bass published the accounts to great acclaim. When Meg reluctantly accompanies Bassie on an excavation of the old Bass property and discoveries cast doubt on the family history, Meg finally succumbs to the allure of the history and delves deeper into the stories.
2006 Johnny D. Boggs Camp Ford: A Western Story During the 1946 World Series, ninety-nine-year-old Win MacNaughton recalls the greatest baseball game of his entire life between a ragtag collection of Union prisoners of war against a squad of Confederate prison guards.
2006 Loren D. Estelman The Undertaker's Wife Retired undertaker Richard Connable is pressed back into service by men who want him to disguise the suicide of a major financier. During her husbands absence, Lucy recalls the adventures that took them throughout the country, her husband's professional development and friendship with Wild Bill Hickock.
2005 Rick Steber Buy the Chief a Cadillac A novel that recreates the days surrounding the US government's purchase of the Klamath tribe's reservation and the termination of tribal status in 1961.
2004 Brian Hall I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company Presenting the story of Lewis and Clark in an entirely new light, Hall uses the novelist's art to produce a compulsively readable book that fills the gaps and provides a new perspective on this great American story.
2003 Sandra Dallas The Chili Queen A novel of secrets and heartbreak, revenge, and justice, set in 1880s New Mexico.
2002 Elmer Kelton The Way of the Coyote The Civil War has ended and Union soldiers and federal officials have taken control of Texas as Rusty Shannon rides to his home on the Colorado River.
2001 Mike Blakely Summer of Pearls Ben Crowell remembers the Great Caddo Lake Pearl Rush of 1874. He was fourteen that year, and his home, the riverboat community of Port Caddo, was dying. By the end of the summer, the pearl boom was over, Port Caddo was doomed, and the mystery over who killed Judd Kelso began. It took Ben forty years to solve the mystery, and once he did, the proof came only for him to witness. He is the only living soul who will know what happened that September night in 1874.
2000 Richard S. Wheeler Masterson
1999 Loren Estleman Journey of the Dead This is a novel of American history and its journey from wild frontier into the twentieth century. Two witnesses to this turbulent evolution tell their stories. One is an ancient Spanish alchemist searching for the philosopher's stone from his hut in the New Mexico desert. The other is the fabled Pat Garrett, the man who killed his poker buddy, Billy the Kid.
1998 Cynthia Haseloff The Kiowa Verdict The Kiowa Verdict is based on the trial of two Kiowa Indians, Satanta and Adoltay also called Big Tree, for taking part in the "The Warren Wagon Train Massacre."
1997 "For promotional purposes, the WWA Executive Board in 1997 voted to redesignate the Spur Awards to reflect the year the award is presented rather than the year the work was published."
1996 Preston Lewis writing as Will Camp Blood of Texas Rubio Portillo is a Mexican living in San Antonio in 1835, but he despises the heartless rule of the Mexican government. Portillo loses everything to join Sam Houston's army in the battle for freedom. He fights for his place among the men and for his new country. Portillo knows that victory is the important goal, but rebuilding will take all his strength and dedication.
1995 Robert J. Conley The Dark Island
1994 Tom Eidson St. Agnes' Stand On the run through the New Mexico desert after a killing in self-defense, Nat Swanson finds ten Apache-ambush survivors led by Sister St. Agnes, who sees Swanson as a rescuer sent by God.
1993 Charles Hackenberry Friends After his best friend is killed by a vicious psychopath, Willie Goodwin tracks the killer across the stark wilderness of the Dakota Territory.
1992 Robert J. Conley Nickajack Given one year to put his affairs in order after being sentenced to die for killing a man, Nickajack becomes caught between warring factions within the Cherokee nation.
1991 Richard Matheson Journey of Gun Years Being choice selections from the Authentic, never-before-printed diary of the famous gunfighter-lawman Clay Halser, whose deeds of daring made his name a by-word of terror in the Southwest between the years of 1866 and 1876!
1990 Gary Svee Sanctuary There was much to fear in Sanctuary, Montana. Small, poor, and brutal, it was a place people fought to leave, not one they sought out. Most men tasted the bitter bile of the place and moved on -- until one day, one man came to stay.
1989 Richard Wheeler Fool's Coach Three people make a desperate flight in a broken-down coach from the rough-and-tumble Montana goldfield towns of Alder Gulch and Virginia City, where road agents--highwaymen, bushwackers, thugs--make travel hazardous. While you can make a fortune in this hardbitten territory, you'd better not try to leave town with it.
1988 Judy Alter Mattie
1987 Tony Hillerman Skinwalkers Three shotgun blasts explode into the trailer of Officer Jim Chee, but Chee survives to join partner Lt. Joe Leaphorn in a frightening investigation that leads them into a dark work of ritual, witchcraft and blood--all tied to the elusive and evil "skinwalker."
1986 Ralph Robert The Beer Blind Corral
1985 Larry McMurtry Lonesome Dove A love story and an epic of the frontier, Lonesome Dove is the grandest novel ever written about the last, defiant wilderness of America. Richly authentic, beautifully written, Lonesome Dove is a book to make readers laugh, weep, dream and remember.
1984 No Award Given
1983 Frank Roderus Leaving Kansas
1982 Fred Grove Match Race
1981 Elmer Kelton Eye of the Hawk
1981 Lee Head Horizon
1979 William Decker The Holdouts
1978 Norma Zollinger Riders to Cibola
1977 Fred Grove The Great Horse Race
1976 Douglas C. Jones The Court Marshall of George Armstrong Custer
1976 Lou Cameron The Spirit Horse
1975 Glendon Swarthout The Shootist John Bernard Brooks,a legendary gunfighter afflicted with a terminal illness, seeks medical attention and solitude in Carson City. However, he finds himself embroiled in one last battle.
1974 Stephen Overholser A Hanging in Sweetwater
1973 Elmer Kelton The Time It Never Rained Kelton tells the compelling story of one rancher's struggle to maintain his independence. But as rainless years continue and farmers and ranchers sell their souls for federal hand-outs, Charlie finds himself under increasing pressure to compromise his principles.
1972 Lewis B. Patten A Killing in Kiowa
1971 Elmer Kelton The Day the Cowboys Quit Hugh Hitchcock reluctantly gets involved in the cowboy strike of 1883--and the open range won't ever be the same.
1970 Clifton Adams The Last Days of Wolf Garnett
1969 Clifton Adams Tragg's Choice
1968 Louis L'Amour Down the Long Hills After the massacre, Hardy and Betty Sue were left with only a horse and a knife with which to face the long battle against the wilderness. Stranded on the limitless prairie, the children were up against starvation, Indians, and wild animals. They were both mighty stubborn--but the odds were against them.
1967 Lee Hoffman The Valdez Horses Chino Valdez was ugly, withdrawn, and a devil when drunk. But everyone respected his ability as a horseman. No man knew breeding and training the way Valdez did. Yet even though he earned the admiration of a young boy, and tamed the wildest stallion, there was one thing he could not control -- the love of a woman he could never have...
1966 Herbert R. Purdum My Brother John
1965 Benjamin Capps Sam Chance
1964 Benjamin Capps The Trail to Ogallala
1963 Follow the Free Wind Follow the Free Wind
1962 Fred Grove Comanche Captives
1961 Giles Lutz The Honyocker
1960 Will C. Brown The Nameless Breed
1959 Nelson Nye Long Run
1958 Noel Loomis Short Cut to Red River
1957 Elmer Kelton Buffalo Wagons For Gage Jameson, the summer of 1873 has been a poor hunt. A year ago, he felled sixty-two buffalo in one stand. Now the great Arkansas River herd is gone, like the Republican herd before it. In Dodge City, old hide hunters speak in awe of a last great herd to the south -- but no hunter who values his scalp dares ride south of the Cimarron and into Comanche territory. None but Gage Jameson...
1956 Leslie Ernenwein High Gun
1954 Wayne D. Overholser The Violent Land Big Jim Perrin is gobbling up land across Oregon with the help of his friend, gunman Dan Nathan, but when Nathan's conscience begins to bother him, he is no longer certain he can be loyal to his employer.
1953 Lee Leighton Lawman