Brendan Prairie

Don O'Brien, Author, Dan O'Brien, Author Scribner Book Company $21.5 (253p) ISBN 978-0-684-80368-5
A conflict between developers and environmentalists in South Dakota's Black Hills provides the crucible through which two characters must pass in order to become reacquainted with their own better selves. At the center of O'Brien's (Eminent Domain) gracefully restrained novel is Bill Malone, a passionate environmentalist who once trained wild falcons. Crippled from a mysterious knee injury and left bereft by the death of his wife years earlier in a car accident, Malone is now a heavy drinker who teaches biology at a local university. Ironically, the Special Agent for the Fish and Wildlife Service who has come to approve a controversial condominium development on Brendan Prairie is Margaret Adamson, an old lover from college. Just as a front-end loader begins construction of the development, its brakes suddenly fail and the developer's representative is crushed to death. Malone, an outspoken opponent of the project, is suspected of sabotage. Meanwhile, an old photograph prompts his 20-year-old daughter, Allison, to ask questions about her mother's death, and Adamson's arrival stirs more memories about his younger days as a falconer when he met his wife, who shared his passion. Afraid she has let her old friend down and still feeling responsible for Malone's arrest years ago for trapping a falcon without a permit, Adamson is determined now to back Malone, despite her own suspicions about his involvement in the developer's death. O'Brien, whose prose comes most fully alive when describing Malone's work with the falcons, has written an engaging, heartfelt story about how one man's passion for wildlife and a beautiful woman is betrayed. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
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