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Cottonwood

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3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  166 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
In his "New York Times" notable debut, "The Ice Harvest," Scott Phillips gave readers an instant noir classic that spanned twenty-four eventful hours in the life of a mob lawyer hoping to skip town (namely Wichita) with a small fortune. Phillips followed with the acclaimed sequel, "The Walkaway," showing how a seeming windfall can wreak wicked havoc on the lives of its rec ...more
Published (first published February 3rd 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 302)
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Still
Feb 23, 2015 Still rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who enjoy well-written mysteries and westerns
Recommended to Still by: I'm a Scott Phillips enthusiast


This novel is a Western of sorts ...in the sense that it's set in Kansas in 1870-1890 when people rode horses and carried side-arms.

There is much action, but not of the fast-draw gunfighter variety. Think of it as what could have been a terrific vehicle for James Garner post-Rockford Files.

The good-natured narrator is a bartender/photographer and enthusiastic philanderer as well as hapless cuckold who finds himself involved with a man and his wife who might well turn out to be swindlers operatin
...more
Aaron
May 15, 2016 Aaron rated it it was amazing
As a Social Worker I spend most of my days in what Phish would call the "nasty part of town". I love my job and after the zoo it is the best people watching I have ever experienced. As a matter of fact I must have lost some weight recently because all the girls in short shorts on the Avenue wave and smile and try to get me to stop and flirt with them. On the negative side though, I have seen and smelled things that would make Satan weep. When I read awesome books like Cottonwood however all I ca ...more
Clayton Lindemuth
Sep 28, 2013 Clayton Lindemuth rated it it was amazing
Holy shit, buy this book.

I know I’m a latecomer to the Scott Phillips Fan Party, but this guy does something magical with words. I used to wander around the book store, browsing titles, reading first pages, sick with the sure knowledge I’d bet and lose. Nothing’s worse than getting a chapter in and realizing the author doesn’t know where he’s going. Lucky for me that a friend introduced me to Scott over a beer, and I felt compelled to pick up a title I otherwise might have missed.

Scott Phillips
...more
Whit
Sep 22, 2009 Whit rated it it was ok
I was so enthused about this book--described on the cover as "crime fiction at its best" and set in "Cottonwood, Kansas" in 1872. The setting of this typical Kansas town is well-developed and adds much to the story, and the development of the community is a considerable part of the story. However, the book hinges not on the crimes committed, but on the narrator's affair with the lead community developer's wife.

The narrator is strangely cold and unfeeling towards his wife, his son, and even his n
...more
Pauline
This came out well before HBO's "Deadwood" - I think Scott should sue!
Dan Downing
Dec 28, 2014 Dan Downing rated it really liked it
Earlier this year I took Phillip's "Hop Alley" from the shelf, thinking it was the next title of his. I was mistaken: "Cottonwood" preceded it and "Hop Alley" was a sequel. As it turns out, Phillips turned the old Greek approach of 'in medias res' inside out. "Hop Alley", in the classical mode, would have been the first volume, since "Cottonwood" contains the beginning of the story and the conclusion. A gap in the middle, unnoticed when reading "Cottonwood", is filled by "Hop Alley". Sound confu ...more
Amy Lueck
Jul 01, 2014 Amy Lueck rated it it was amazing
After hearing a reading by Scott Phillips at the Madisonville Community College in April, I immediately wanted more. Quite unfortunately for the reading public, I learned from Scott that the book from which his reading was originally drawn, _Cottonwood_, is currently out of print, but Scott was generous enough to hook me up with a copy. As excellent as the story from the reading was, it didn't even make the cut for inclusion in the final draft of that book. This speaks no discredit to the story ...more
Josh
Jan 31, 2011 Josh rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the first half of this book. Bill Ogden is a likable character and Cottonwood is a fantastic setting which at times had me nostalgic for Deadwood. This was loosely based on true events though Cottonwood itself is fictitious - some nasty murders by very unsavory people. Personally I would've liked this to continue the sold opening sequences in Cottonwood rather than take a different direction. However this is an enjoyable read and a nice insight into life in the late 1800's. 3 st ...more
Jim
Mar 18, 2013 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime
A fictional retelling of the famous Bender serial-killer case in Kansas, as told by the ladies man Bill Ogden, a photographer/saloon owner who has a dalliance with the wife of the wealthy patron of the town of Cottonwood. Although interesting, the narrative never really catches fire, and even dramatic events are somewhat blandly related. I think most readers will enjoy the book, though I found it somewhat lacking. I will have to try his earlier efforts, however.
DR
Sep 06, 2014 DR rated it liked it
In contrast to his debut novel, “THE ICE HARVEST” (and its not-so-memorable film adaptation directed by the late Harold Ramis), Scott Phillips's COTTONWOOD doesn’t span just 24 hours in one character’s misbegotten life. The novel is credible historical fiction tackling 1872-90 in Kansas and a diverse cast of frontier types.

Autodidact saloon owner and photographer Bill Ogden is miserably bound “in matrimony with a dolt” (p15) and scrambling for both enriching economic opportunities and new sex p
...more
Brendan
May 18, 2009 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to get into this book. Bill Ogden, a rough and tumble homesteader and bar owner in a small Kansas town, leads us through the tumultuous era of early life on the prairie, splitting his decision making between a ruthless self-reliance and business aptitude and his desire for female company (to put it much more delicately than he does).

We read this book for my mystery book club and it was interesting in that the mystery is a sideline to the character of the town. Ostensibly, the
...more
Laura
May 09, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smartly written, gritty, and very entertaining. The protagonist is saloon owner and photographer Bill Ogden. Bill has received a classical education from his clergyman father and enjoys Latin and Greek literature. This gives the first person narrative a stilted and wonderfully droll delivery. The plot sets up in 1872, then fast forwards and concludes in 1890 after Bill's 17-year hiatus in Denver and San Francisco. The sequel, "Hop Alley" covers those missing years, so there's another addition to ...more
Gordon
Feb 22, 2014 Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd just shotgunned the Deadwood TV series when I plucked Cottonwood from my shelf, hoping to keep that buzz going with its namesake outlaw frontier town. As with the aforementioned show, the most surprising element of Phillips's book is its persistent humor, which often derives less from situations as it does from the language that describes them, coming from the cunniliterate tongue of our … well, let's not say "hero" … Bill Ogden. The prose is eloquent filth, certainly of its time and well-re ...more
Larry
May 29, 2014 Larry rated it liked it
For as long as the book is centered on the growth of Cottonwood, Kansas, it's pretty interesting. Once it moves closer to the creepy family of serial murderers who live outside town it becomes hard to read.
Tony
Jun 05, 2014 Tony rated it it was ok
Shelves:
Disappointing western noir. Did not live up to reviews I had read. Seemed like a series of ill-fated events.
Pauline Stuart
Mar 09, 2015 Pauline Stuart rated it really liked it
Deadwood was definitely stolen from this book
Jeff Tucker
Jul 11, 2009 Jeff Tucker rated it liked it
It's hard to believe this was written by the same author that wrote "The Ice Harvest". I liked this book but not as much as I liked his other. This one is part western, part romance and part mystery. I loved the elegant language that Scott Phillips uses in his story. It's slow to get started but an entertaining read in the end.
Patrick O'Neil
Apr 21, 2012 Patrick O'Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murder, mayhem, and sex on the prairie. Small town America never looked so seedy. Cottonwood it's all out criminals and fornicators. Awesome bit of writing from Scott Phillips.
Benjamin Westbrook
Nov 04, 2013 Benjamin Westbrook rated it really liked it
I've been part of a writer's workshop led by Scott Phillips and read "Cottonwood" a few years ago. This is a dark, thoughtful, and intriguing western. I highly recommend it.
Craig
Nov 30, 2007 Craig rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read in the past few years; wish he would write another. Reminiscent of Deadwood.
Wm. Stage
Apr 01, 2016 Wm. Stage rated it it was amazing
Enjoyable and memorable
Beth Shields-Szostak
Jun 22, 2010 Beth Shields-Szostak marked it as to-read
Shelves: signed
1st edition, signed by author
Tuck
Nov 19, 2010 Tuck rated it it was amazing
great noir western.
Mardyfella
Mardyfella marked it as to-read
May 28, 2016
Mary Landis
Mary Landis marked it as to-read
May 15, 2016
Gareth Williams
Gareth Williams rated it really liked it
May 15, 2016
James Mellors
James Mellors marked it as to-read
Apr 24, 2016
Eric
Eric rated it really liked it
May 04, 2016
David Purves
David Purves rated it really liked it
Apr 24, 2016
Louise Morris
Louise Morris marked it as to-read
Apr 24, 2016
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