Badlands: A Montana Mystery Featuring Gabriel Du Pre Hardcover – 26 Jun 2003
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"Perfectly crafted scenes. . .matchlessly drawn. If John Nichols wrote mystery fiction, it might read a lot like Peter Bowen."
About the Author
Peter Bowen, a Montanan, writes of the West. Cowboy, hunting and fishing guide, folksinger, poet, essayist, and novelist, he's written the picaresque Yellowstone Kelly historical novels, humor columns, and essays on blood sport as Coyote Jack. He has also written the Gabriel Du Pre mysteries, in part, because "the Metis are a great people, a wonderful people, and not many Americans know anything about them."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I remember reading an interview with novelist Robert B. Parker in which he said that his first draft was pretty much what got published, and I couldn't help feeling like the same was true here, and what it needed was another polish. In fact, it needed a whole new ending.
Don't get me wrong - I'll read every one of these that Mr. Bowen cares to write, they are that rewarding - but if you're curious and want to try one, don't start here.
Thus one can predict that Gabriel Du Pre, Metis Indian and frequent agent of a higher justice will be lectured by his mate Madelaine, manipulated by Benetsee the Shaman, and stubbornly determined to try his own way first. He and his own are the truest natives of northern Montana, living at peace with the other long term residents of Toussaint and jealously guarding the inner nature of a lifestyle that still reflects the wilderness about them.
When The Host of Yahweh, a yuppie religious cult, mysteriously descends on Toussaint and proceeds to build a closed community at a local ranch, this gets a lot of attention. Especially when they show signs of killing of the local wild horse herd as pests. Benetsee and Du Pre step in, and soon the violence escalates. The FBI believes that the Host is implicated in the simultaneous killing of 7 ex-members, Du Pre is enlisted and an investigation that is more like a small war ensues.
There really isn't a mystery here other than how Du Pre will manage to overcome the Host, but there is a lot of Bowen's warm respect for the Metis Indians. He captures beautifully the strange English dialect that is part fractured French grammar, part salty word selection, and part sheer attitude. Du Pre is surrounded by characters that Bowen generally keeps entertaining us, even if they are not always using fresh material. Benetsee steals the book this time with his own magical mystery tour. As Bowen writes, "Him, he will make his joke. Always does. Us, we get to be the punch lines."
I would advise starting earlier than this volume in the series, not because it can't stand on its own, but because of the amount the previous volumes contribute to the context.
Not all questions get answeres, and not all plotlines get neatly tied off, but that seems to be part and parcel of Bowen's style.
As always, those familliar with the series will get more from the book than a first time reader.
I really enjoied seeing the relationship develope between Pallas and Ripper, as well as the interplay between Ripper and Harvey. Who is Pidgeon in love with? Will Pallas grow up and join the FBI - pushing Harvey into early retirement and chasing Ripper back to Brazil?
I eagerly await the next instalment.
I'm slowly coming to the end of this series. I keep putting it off, but sooner or later I just have to have a Du Pré fix, and I get one book closer to No More.
Whenever I review one of Peter Bowen's Gabriel Du Pré mysteries, readers seldom comment. Perhaps it's because Du Pré is so unabashedly not politically correct. He likes to smoke. He likes to drink. He likes to drive his old police cruiser at high speed down those empty Montana highways-- usually all three at the same time.
Parker came up to it. She bent over and put her head in. "You OK," she said.
"Yah," said Du Pré. "I am doing the damned speed limit, yes?"
"Yeah," said Parker, "you were, which worried the hell out of me. There's Du Pré I says to myself, and he musta been carjacked cause he is just driving the speed limit. Little under actually. You feel all right?"
That alone is enough to make him anathema in many homes, and it's a downright shame. By not touching these books, readers are missing out on wonderful music, the culture of the Métis Indians, the lilting cadence of Coyote French, and the strong uncompromising landscape of Montana and its fiercely independent inhabitants who know how to take care of their own with no outside interference.
In this tenth book of the series, a ranch family has come on hard times and put their land up for sale. The land is bought by the Host of Yahweh, a cult from California. Soon trucks are delivering all sorts of building materials and supplies. Dozens of homes go up for cult members to live in, and barbed wire starts being strung. The Host of Yahweh's property borders the Badlands where the wild horses live. The cult doesn't want the horses to come on their land for water or grazing, and when they post a couple of members out there to kill the horses, that bothers Du Pré. Of course, he's already bothered because his friend in the FBI has let him know that everyone who tries to leave the cult winds up dead.
Trying to get the goods on the Host of Yahweh isn't the only thing going on in Badlands. Bowen's series is always filled with music and laughter. Du Pré's fiddle provides the backdrop to the real life moments of coping with failing eyesight and headstrong grandchildren and trying to scratch out a living on the land. That California cult may think it can have its way with the country hicks who live around Toussaint, Montana, but these tough folks know how to take care of their own with love, with spirit, and with honesty. Reading a Gabriel Du Pré mystery is reading about America the way it used to be... and the way it still is if you happen to mosey down the right highway.
Gabriel DuPre learns through his FBI contacts that seven men who left the cult were all killed on the same day at the same time in various places around the country by female members. Gabriel tries to help a woman trying to escape but when she sees that members of the cult are about to capture her, she kills herself in front of her children. When Gabriel sneaks into the compound and sets fire to an ammunitions dump, the resulting explosions are enough to get the FBI involved. The FBI surrounds the compound but nobody wants another Waco so the Federal agents are prepared to wait them out until Gabriel comes up with an idea to break the back of the resistance.
The tenth installment in this series is refreshingly original due in large part to the protagonist who though a grandfather fourteen times over, lives life to the fullest. He is not afraid to take chances and puts his life on the line to try and get some information on the cult that can be used by the FBI. In BADLANDS the federal agents are the good guys who act with restraint while the cult members pursue their sinister agenda. Peter Bowen does for Montana what Tory Hillerman does for New Mexico.