Quietly understated, leaving much unsaid under the surface, yet visceral, tangible, and intense--Smith’s storytelling in Ghost Medicine is like his characters.
Troy lives in a remote ranching community at the base of the mountains in the west. The son of a teacher who doesn’t quite fit in, he loves the ranch life and is rarely separated from his Stetson or horse, Reno, yet only wears tennis shoes and t-shirts along with his jeans. The summer before he turns 17, Troy’s mom finally loses her battle with cancer and he runs away on Reno into the mountains, living off the land for a few weeks until life-long friend (and secret love) Luz tracks him down. He finally returns to join best friends Tom and Gabe working for Gabe and Luz’s father as a ranch hand.
Still grieving his mom and haunted by the long-ago death of a younger brother, Troy does his best to deal with what follows: an exceedingly tumultuous summer--snakebites, range fires, competitions, love, mountain lions, rivalries, horrific violence, and multiple deaths--that has him growing up all too quickly.
Repressed, taciturn Troy does his best to remain distant from those in his story and keep us at arm’s length, but he makes an excellent and believable narrator nonetheless. A slice of life that almost made me want to become a cowboy despite it all.