Sunday, February 16, 2014

THE OLD GRAY WOLF by James D. Doss

James D. Doss' The Old Gray Wolf is a good story told in Doss' usual round-about style plus some. This is the most convoluted Charlie Moon book I've read.

The story starts when Charlie and his friend Granite Creek, Colorado, Chief of Police Scott Parris apparently kill a man. The man was a small-time thief who tried to steal a woman's purse. Scott picked up a can of black-eyed peas (if I remember the can's contents correctly), threw it at the man, and beaned him.

Previously, a bartender had thrown the man out of her bar. That time he hit his head on a fire hydrant. The second blow from the canned vegetables was enough to kill him.

And, as fate would have it, the man happened to be the son of a now-dead mob boss and his wife.

The crippled old mob boss' wife sends her most efficient assassin, not to kill Charlie and Scott, but to do to them what happened to her.

And the story goes from there.

As always, the story has the series' most memorable character, Aunt Daisy, and all the rest of the regulars. Even Aunt Daisy's friend the pitukupf plays a part.

The story meanders along until near the end where five people die (or we learn of their deaths) in about five pages.

The deaths involve great tragedies for Scott and Charlie.

This was Doss' last book. He died soon after he finished the manuscript. (The book's cover shows an empty storyteller's place by an extinguished camp fire.)

The title refers to the nickname of a retired Texas Ranger who asked Charlie and Scott for their help.

I've always wondered if Doss' rambling style mimics the storytelling traditions of the people he writes about, especially the Ute shaman Aunt Daisy. In any case, the books require perseverance and either careful reading or a lot of skipping to complete, but Doss has always rewarded me with a good story when I have read through to the end.

It seems like I've been writing RIP for a lot of good mystery writers lately. James D. Doss is certainly one of them.


Kelly Robinson said...

Beaned with some beans! Thanks for a fun review.

Joe Barone said...

You are welcome.