Wolf, No Wolf: A Montana Mystery Featuring Gabriel Du Pre

Peter Bowen, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-14078-6
A careful and sympathetic reading of this third in Bowen's original yet uneven Gabriel Du Pre series (after Coyote Wind and Specimen Song) may bring small rewards. On the other hand, traditional mystery fans will wish that Bowen had imposed a tighter sense of order on the seemingly random body count draped across this loose narrative. Du Pre, a Metis Indian, talks somewhere between Tonto and Justin Wilson on PBS, plays a mean Cajun fiddle and occasionally takes on the mantle of sheriff's deputy in rural Montana. The area is experiencing growing pains as New Agers and yuppies come prospecting for meaning in the landscape. Environmentalists clash with ranchers, people are murdered, news cameras arrive and the FBI sticks its big federal nose into an area notorious for its suspicions of big government. Du Pre is so implausibly heroic, tough and romantic here that he will remind cynical readers of a vigorously sensitive leading character penned by Robert James Waller. All this would be forgivable if the plot held together, but Bowen struggles with his frontier metaphors, adding shamanism and ritual killing to the mix and generally failing to clarify the mechanics of so many deaths, which are hard to keep track of through the scrim of Du Pre's smug manliness. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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