Tuesday, March 15, 2016

LONG SON by Peter Bowen

Gabriel Du Pré's music is at the heart of Peter Bowen's Long Son.

Larry Messmer returns to take over his parent's Toussaint, Montana, cattle ranch.

Messmer is a psychopathic killer. His sister and his parents died in suspicious accidents. Messmer works for a drug cartel which also specializes in murder and sexual slavery.

When Messmer sells his parents' cattle at cut rates and moves in horses, all of Toussaint is suspicious. The cartel will use the ranch for the drug or the sex trade.

Except that someone shotguns Messmer at close range, cuts him in half.

The cartel thinks Du Pré did it. They set out to kill him.

Du Pré's lover Madelaine leaves town. Du Pré's rich friend Bart hires guards for Du Pré's relatives. And everyone hunkers down for a standoff.

Others are murdered. Someone is targeting cartel members.

Even Benetsee, the holy man who often helps Du Pré, has left for Canada leaving Dupree to solve the mystery on his own. (Benetsee does return briefly.)

It all comes down to the music. The music holds the key to the killing.

Du Pré enlists a retired alcoholic teacher, Miss Porterfield, to help solve the mystery. The section with Miss Porterfield is among the most moving in the book.

The Du Pré stories are intimately tied in to the Métis Nation, this one even more so than many.

Long Son's title is not explained until the last pages of the book.

Some people object to Bowen's terse way of telling a story, using sometimes hard-to-follow dialect. To me that is what makes these stories great. They are embedded in the culture. The settings are more than trappings. Bowen puts them at the heart of the stories.

I continue to love Peter Bowen's stories about Gabriel Du Pré.


Rick Robinson said...

Sounds a little choppy. Miss Porterfield, teaches retired alcoholics?

Joe Barone said...

You nailed me! Maybe choppy isn't the word. Maybe the word is sloppy, as in sloppy writing. Obviously I meant she was a retired teacher who has become an alcoholic. Oh, Well. Thanks for the comment.