cover image Lizard Skin

Lizard Skin

Carsten Stroud. Bantam Books, $22 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-08935-6

Widowed and divorced, with 19 years on the Montana Highway Patrol, Sgt. Beau McAllister employs deadly wit and disarming humor to defend himself emotionally. Stroud offers a pleasure of the page similar to that afforded by Raymond Chandler as his prairie gumshoe investigates a truck-stop shootout that escalates into extortion and recreates Old West horrors whose victims are Native Americans. In a solid workingman's plot, with neither the astro-artillery of drug novels nor the corporate confusions of syndicate crime, McAllister, who buried his first wife, a Crow Indian, and is battling his second for visitation rights with their young daughter, tracks the far-reaching causes and effects of the case. Stroud, whose nonfiction bestseller Close Pursuit probed the milieu of the NYPD, authoritatively depicts police-radio cross talk, clinical crime-scene details and courtroom tricks. Comfortable on pastureland and reservation, in bars off the interstate, in the mountains and even East L.A., McAllister is a credible, quotably funny and deeply realized figure. (Aug.)