Troyce Nix and Candace made this book for me. As with "Tin Roof Blowdown," this novel turns on the complexity of the human heart and the possibility for change and redemption. Only the truly evil people seem one-dimensional. Though always lyrical, Burke's descriptions of the Montana landscape do not have the intimacy and power that characterize his treatment of Louisiana venues. In this novel he supplants the wistfulness for an earlier, more innocent Louisiana with frank distaste for the intrusion of wealthy, out-of-state usurpers into the Montana landscape. The cast is fascinating, and the denouement surprising and satisfying. It is a rewarding read.
The quips by Wilde kept me laughing aloud, while the grisly murders and array of suspects kept me interested in the mystery. I'm shorting it one star only because the dialogue (except for Wilde) leans into the cliche a bit much. Frank Muller's narration, however, as always, is perfect -- he manages a British Wilde, a French countess, a sleazy East Coast business manager, and a grizzled, Colorado federal marshal with deftness and insight. Definitely a good listen.
I have read all the Mary Russell novels -- this is a very different book. The first few chapters are difficult because King chooses to reveal her central character's history gradually through a haze of grief and depression and flashbacks; however, these are deftly done, and they have a purpose -- to mimic the heroine's slow climb to clarity after a series of horrific experiences. Similarly, King's lengthy descriptions of the house-building are sometimes a bit tedious, but also echo the heroine's struggle to build a life on the ashes of the one she lost. Throw in a mysterious uncle, a hippie smuggler, a kind Sheriff, and other mysteries to be unwoven, and the novel sustains interest to the last minute. I highly recommend it as well as "Keeping Watch," the sequel. Both books fearlessly delve into the disturbed minds of good people faced with horrors almost too great to bear, and finding unorthodox ways to master the pain.
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