This book is as improbable as the title suggests but is all the more fun because of it.
Set in Vanadium, a town built around a worked-out uranium mine in South West Colorado, “Improbable Fortunes” tells the story of a likeable, impeccably honest, and almost unbelievably naïve, ranch hand called Buster,
The story opens with a dramatic and slightly zany disaster, involving a mudslide a destroyed luxury ranch house that is, for some reason, full of cattle, a damsel in distress and Buster, apparently to blame for it all.
Most of the rest of the book is spent recounting Buster’s progress towards this event from his birth onwards.
Abandoned at birth, Buster is raised by a variety of foster parents who gift him, almost accidentally, with a wide range of skills that will become useful to him in later life
The families that Buster lives with each has something odd about them and each suffers an unexpected tragedy that soon gives Buster a reputation as Jonah or worse.
Buster is guided through his chaotic life by the local sheriff who acts as Buster’s guardian angel for reasons that only become clear towards the end of the novel.
The sheriff, like many of the other characters, is a larger than life individual with complex and sometimes concealed, motives for his actions.
Few people in this book, apart from Buster, are who they at first seem to be. The fates of the characters are as dramatic and as interwoven in surprising ways as those of characters in a Restoration Comedy.
Although many bad things are done by many bad people, some of whom are the same people you thought were good people, I was left with a persistent sense of optimism and hope.
“Improbable Fortunes” is the kind of book that you can only really get by reading it, not be reading about it. Even then, if you’re like me, you’ll be smiling, scratching your head and saying “I’ve no idea what just happened but I enjoyed it so much I want it to happen again”.