Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ASH CHILD by Peter Bowen

"Old Man," said Madelaine, "I am some mad, you. You tell me, do this, you don't tell me how."

Benetsee laughed, an ancient cackle.

"I, me, cannot do ever'thing for you. You plenty smart woman, you listen, the old ones, it will be all right," he said.

Peter Bowen's Ash Child is Madelaine's story.

Madelaine hears Benetsee's singers. Benetsee tells Madelaine that she is to solve the case. Madelaine even sees Benetsee perform magic Gabriel Du Pré has never seen before.

Severe drought hits the Wolf Mountains near Toussaint, Montana.

Fires, some of them intentionally set, ravage the mountains. Someone murders an iconoclastic old lady. And two goggle-eyed in-love teenagers end up murdered on the burning mountain.

 Du Pré can't stay out of Madelaine's case. He goes against Benetsee's instructions. He ends up almost being killed.

As always, these books have humor, strong recurring characters, a powerful sense of place, a loving retelling of French-Indian Metis history, and a plot that stresses the tensions between environmentalists and ranchers.

I am working my way through all of Peter Bowen's Gabriel Du Pré books. I read some of them years ago and loved them. But you know how it is? Work and other things got in the way of reading them all. Now retirement lets me have the time.

Ash Child is one of the better Gabriel Du Pré books so far.

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