In this unflinching, dramatic adventure story, modern-day wildland firefighters and cattle rustlers struggle for physical and emotional survival in a changing Western landscape. Braiding the stories of firefighters Morgan and Jeremy and an abrasive laundromat custodian turned cattle rustling grandmother Jacklynn, This Here Is Devil’s Work is a fiery ride through small towns of Nevada and Montana and the rugged expanse that connects them.
With twelve years on the fireline, Morgan, a firefighter with a wandering eye, believes he knows what his teenage half-brother, Jeremy, needs to do to shrug off boyhood: spend a single season fighting forest fires to earn money for auto mechanic school. But when Jeremy joins the Ruby Mountain Hotshots and earns the respect and admiration of Bailey, their fire boss, Morgan’s unresolved animosity toward his kid brother threatens to destroy everything.
Meanwhile, life hasn’t been easy on Jacklynn. She’s got her heart set on finding a way to move from the small town in Montana where she’s lived her whole life to reunite with her daughter and grandson in Tucson. She wants to make up for a lifetime of missteps by protecting the boy and making sure her daughter stays on the straight and narrow. On the same day that an attractive stranger waltzes into her life, an opportunity for life-changing money presents itself in the form of a dozen pregnant heifers. The only trouble is, they aren’t hers—not yet, anyway.
Morgan and Jacklynn’s paths cross when lightning ignites a blaze in the untamed Montana wilderness, and their choices force each other into the crucible.
Inspired by the wildfires raging across the West and the legendary smokejumpers whose legacy continues to shape the ways wildland fires are fought, This Here Is Devil’s Work explores how love and loneliness can sour, inspiring desperate and self-destructive acts. Curtis Bradley Vickers pulls no punches in showing us how guilt, isolation, and desperation truly feel—and how such emotions can drive our actions, even for those people we might, from a distance, consider heroic. An incendiary debut, this novel will appeal to New West literary movement readers.
“In Curtis Vickers’s This Here is Devil’s Work the dreams of its characters burn as bright—and as devastatingly— as the fires of American West. . . . With sharp commentary on working-class dignity and suspense that builds like a fire, Wildland is a vital exploration of the true meaning of family, perseverance, and the bravery of a woman who knew the odds yet ‘opened her mouth to try anyway’.”
—Allison Davis, author of Line Study of a Motel Clerk
"This Here is Devil’s Work is a vivid and evocative reminder that, here in the vastness of the American West, our personal stories and the stories of the land remain intertwined and inseparable.”
—Michael P. Branch, author of Rants from the Hill and How to Cuss in Western
“In Curtis Vickers’ This Here is Devil’s Work, the archetypes of the American West get a much-needed update. The twining storylines of a grandmother-turned-cattle rustler and a bitter wildland firefighter capture with frightening clarity and empathy what desperation will drive people to. This is the West that I know; full of dangerous lands and dangerous loves, where characters are either forged or consumed in the flames of a raging wildfire.”
—Gabriel Urza, author of The White Death: An Illusion and All That Followed
“Tautly crafted and breathtakingly suspenseful, this debut novel will leave you forever changed.”
—Christopher Coake, author of You Would Have Told Me Not To
"This Here Is Devil's Work echoes the images of wildfires seen on the nightly news. This timely novel explores the subject matter and themes of stewardship and control, and many readers will be impacted by the difficult contradictions exposed within these pages."
—Markus EgelerJones, author of How the Butcher Bird Finds Her Voice
“Curtis Vickers forges unflinchingly into the fiery hearts of his characters and shelters us from the showering sparks produced by their conflagrations. Montana and its people have rarely burned as brightly as they do in this vivid, finely crafted, page-turner of a novel.”
—Siân Griffiths, author of Scrapple, Borrowed Horses, and The Heart Keeps Faulty Time