John William’s `Butcher’s Crossing’ is a perfect blend of storytelling, character study, moral challenge and social comment. The intense interaction between the determined, capable, dominant, driven Miller, the naïve young graduate investor Andrews, the caustic hired hand Schneider, and the religious wino Charley Hoge is fascinating and pertinent. Williams sets this seamlessly into the wider scenario of the characters of a small town population, nature’s hostility in blistering desert, snow blizzard and raging river torrent, casual pointless exploitation of the buffalo herds, and the overwhelming vagaries of the market capable of trouncing all best human endeavour. Here is the primeval human condition and human context which Boston’s distant civilisation only thinly masks. It’s a masterly novel, worthy of a place in the canon of classical literature.