Bone Music

Lee Moler, Author Simon & Schuster $23 (320p) ISBN 978-0-684-84355-1
Moler's (Baltimore Blues) hip and funny take on the old-timey, shoot-'em-up western set under the big sky of Montana involves a too-cool cyberage cowboy battling an old Vietnam nemesis. Finding 150 of his prize Angus dead overnight from a mysterious air-borne pathogen, Judd Jefferson--ex-Vietnam military cop now a gas-rich cattle rancher--suspects that the culprit is a Chinese computer chip company leasing a failed manufacturing plant from his grasping land-baron neighbor. Unbeknownst to him, the company has ties to Judd's Vietnam enemy, C.K. Lone, kingpin of the Chinese mafia, white slaver of Asian children and mastermind of a plot to market a killer virus to Saddam Hussein. To make prospects even grimmer, Judd's wife, Celine, has split, protesting his escalating post-Vietnam warlike behavior. The action here advances almost entirely via brief, lackluster dialogue or e-mail messages. Browsing the Net for clues to a viral outbreak, Judd logs on to the Montana Millennium Web site and e-mails Vandiver, a Bible-spouting virologist who says someone is killing cattle with mutant rabies virus. In exchange for a copy of his report, the wide-eyed doc wants 50 Gs to finance his escape from death threats by the FBI. Meanwhile, Judd's faithful Native American companion, Joseph Far Lighting--golfer and medicine man without portfolio--is battling alcoholism, and Celine teeters at the brink of insanity. Lurking in the woods is Donnelly, a fear-crazed Philadelphia computer hacker on the lam from gambling debts. Complicating matters are mystical Native American rites of purification, some New York City wiseguys, assorted local kooks and the EPA as the Keystone Kowboys to round up the evil Chinese villains. With little plot or character development to speak of, Moler's effort remains too zany and tongue-in-cheek to be taken seriously--which might be just what western fans are looking for. Agent, Al Zuckerman/Writer's House. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1999
Release date: 02/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
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