cover image Bury My Heart at Redtree

Bury My Heart at Redtree

Patrick Chalfant. Hawk Publishing Group, $23.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-930709-53-9

A host of unappealing characters-chief among them an inept Wyoming detective, a corrupt banker and a brilliant but disturbed grad student-cum-murderer-crowd Chalfant's fast-moving but ham-fisted second novel (following When the Levee Breaks). Psychology student Taylor Hayes lies at the heart of this tale, which starts out as a murder mystery and then evolves into a revenge saga. The target of Taylor's wrath is Kyle Gayland, the cartoonishly evil banker who planted poison around the apartment complex where Taylor's Native-American foster parents lived, killing them and several other residents, so that Gayland could make a huge profit when he sold the property. Chalfant tracks the duel between Taylor and Gayland in a pair of parallel plot threads. While Taylor attends classes, romances his girlfriend (who happens to work for Gayland) and embarks on killing sprees, Gayland stuffs his corpulent body full of pork ribs and plots to destroy still more lives. The characters and dialogue are almost comical in their clumsiness-lines like ""You'll never get away with it"" and ""Wealth buys no favors in the darkest chasms of hell"" are particularly prize worthy-and the Native-American spirituality that Chalfant invokes to justify Taylor's actions seems laughably hokey. Indeed, there's little to redeem this sophomore effort; even the climax, which is painfully predictable, ends the story on a sour note.