BADLANDS: A Montana Mystery Featuring Gabriel Du Pré

Peter Bowen, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $23.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-26252-5

Gabriel Du Pré, Bowen's hard-drinking, fast-driving, fiddle-playing western hero, investigates the activities of a sinister religious cult that purchases a huge cattle ranch in the 10th entry in this gripping and humorous series (after 2002's Ash Child). Du Pré's suspicions are aroused when the Host of Yahweh immediately destroys the ranch buildings, sells the livestock and erects a makeshift metal chapel for secret rites. Soon, reports of mass murders and suicides bring in cautious FBI agents ever mindful of the Waco debacle. Du Pré's blunt speech and sometimes opaque thought patterns can be hard to follow, but his pursuits of wrongdoers over cliffs, canyons and arid river beds are truly riveting. His encounters with Benetsee, a native seer and medicine man, are often comical, though the old man provides good counsel when the self-appointed sleuth, with a posse of deputies and federal agents, surround the compound for the final siege. Other denizens of remote Toussaint, Mont., including Du Pré's girlfriend, tough-minded bartender Madelaine, and his wayward granddaughter, Pallas, provide welcome diversions from the ominous goings-on behind the Host's electric fence. A buffalo stampede, tales of Indian lore and even the modern menace of biological weaponry lead to a just-in-the-nick-of-time finale. (May 5)

FYI:Bowen is also the author of Kelly and the Three-Toed Horse (Forecasts, Feb. 26, 2001) and other titles in his Yellowstone Kelly historical series.

Reviewed on: 04/07/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
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