cover image The Devil's Backbone

The Devil's Backbone

Robert Greer. Warner Books, $22 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-653-0

CJ Floyd, Denver bail bondsman and sometime bounty hunter, has double trouble in his third adventure (after The Devil's Red Nickel, 1997.) Two friends ask CJ to find the killer of their pal Hambone Dolbey, a retired black rodeo star who claimed to have discovered diamonds on his rocky patch of land north of Denver. Oil executives Whitaker Rodgers and Evelyn Coleman had been dickering over the property rights with Dolbey in the months before his death. Dolbey may have had other enemies, including white riders jealous of his rodeo success, and his recently acknowledged son from a long-ago affair with a teenage girl. Meantime, CJ has hauled in bail jumper Bobby Two Shirts, whose homicidally devoted sister, Celeste Deepstream, decides to make CJ pay dearly for his trouble. As a black man investigating the troubled intersection of black and white societies, CJ faces special problems. Greer treats the racial issues with great skill, never turning preachy, letting CJ, the rest of the clearly etched cast and a well-wrought story lead the way. Author tour. (Feb.)