Wednesday, June 22, 2016


In Peter Bowen's Cruzatte and Maria, Gabriel Du Pré investigates the murders of canoers on the Missouri River.

It is coming upon the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Tourists and filmmakers want to document their travels. They want come to the most remote remaining part of the river. The Montana cattle ranchers who live there don't like it.

One documentary film maker hires Du Pré to play Cruzatte, the Metis fiddler who made the original trip with Lewis and Clark. Du Pré's daughter Maria ends up playing Sacagawea. Maria's fiancée directs the film.

Thanks to the holy man Benetsee, Du Pré finds historical artifacts including a ghost fiddle that is more important to him that any non-Metis could understand.

The history is in the music. The story of the trip plays out around the search for the killer. And as it turns out, the killer is someone with whom Du Pré has sympathy.

Along the way, you learn the history, especially the unheralded part played by the Metis. You learn about the fight to preserve a ranching way of life that many see as having destroyed the land and its original purpose. And again, you learn about the music.

The Gabriel Du Pré Montana mysteries are a mix of history and mystery. Peter Bowen's Gabriel Du Pré Montana mysteries are among the best books I read.

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