cover image Dakota


Gwen Florio. Permanent, $28 (264p) ISBN 978-1-57962-362-3

Florio’s disappointing second foray into northern wide open spaces (after 2013’s Montana) takes downsized newspaper foreign correspondent Lola Wicks from her Magpie, Mont., reporting job, along with her roommate, Indian sheriff Charlie Laurendeau, into the Bakken, western North Dakota’s booming oil patch, where exotic dancer Judith Calf Looking is found dead in a snow bank. Other Blackfeet girls, all drug users like Judith, have disappeared, too, and Lola defies both Charlie and her editor to find out why. Bodies pile up, sleaze abounds, and Lola falls foul of fast-buck promoters, rowdy roughnecks, and corrupt lawmen. Florio sympathizes with the tough life on the rez and reflects ruefully on economic booms that upend values and prey hardest on women and children, but her plot quickly turns improbable, her villains and victims rapidly flatline into caricature, and her conclusion boils over into soggy cliché. Agent: Barbara Braun, Barbara Braun Associates. (Mar.)