Tuesday, September 6, 2016

NAILS by Peter Bowen

A quotation from Nails--

"Booger Tom reached over the sheep wire and he pulled up a plant.

"'Bluestem,' he said. 'Got yer bunchgrass there and yer wheatgrass, too. You know what this is?'

"Du Pré looked at him.

"'This is the prairie. It is here, and some along the old railroad lines, in some places never got used up. I think it is just waitin' to come back. Waitin' for us to go. Very patient, the prairie.'"


Human invasion of the prairie grasslands. That's one of the major themes of the Gabriel Du Pré books.

Of course, it is just like always. We deserve to be here, but those who come afterward are invaders. The Montana Métis have been here at least since the late 19th century when the Canadians forced many of them out of Canada. But the wild-eye Christian fundamentalists moving in to Toussaint, Montana, right now are invaders.

Not only are they invaders. They bring murder with them.

It is not as simple as it seems. It is not that they are murderers themselves exactly, but that they bring murder from a long way off.

Couple that with the death of an emaciated little girl, the possibility that Father Van Den Huevel (who is a trained geologist) might find gold in the Wolf Mountains, and the PTSD Madelaine's Iraq-veteran son Chappie faces, and you have a typical Garbriel Du Pré mystery.

The unidentified, emaciated little girl doesn't have a mark on her.

Toussaint's children come and go. Du Pré's granddaughter Pallas comes home from the school where she is learning skills that could take her away from the prairie and Wolf Mountain altogether. She rides her horse Moondog. She arranges with Bart to take the horse back to school with her where she has a place to ride.

Nails, like many of the Montana Mysteries, is about smart, strong Metis women.

Bart is married now, also to a smart, strong woman. Madeline's PTSD-suffering son Chappie finds and loses love. The people at the local school try to fend off the anti-evolution fundamentalists. The fundamentalists want the school to teach creation science. They will even buy the books.

As always, the characters make Peter Bowen's Montana Mysteries what they are. All the main characters are in place for this story. And, of course, there is Benetsee.

Nails could have ended sooner. For my taste, it had too much explanation after its true close. This is a good story, but there are better stories in the series. Still, I love the people. I enjoy reading about them. 

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