cover image Winter Rain

Winter Rain

Terry C. Johnston. Bantam Books, $21.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-09508-1

Jonah Hook, hero of Johnston's previous novel Carry the Wind , reappears in an atmospheric but unpleasant tale of his hard times in the years following the Civil War. Returning home to Missouri after a stint in a Yankee prison camp and service in the Indian wars out West, the former Confederate finds that his wife Gritta, their daughter Hattie and two sons have been kidnapped by raiders. He begins a seven-year quest, reminiscent of John Ford's epic film The Searchers , to find his family. Gritta has become the personal property of a renegade Mormon freebooter whose followers sexually assault her boys, Zeke and Jeremiah, before selling them to Mexican comancheros; Hattie's whereabouts are unknown. Told in a flashback from 1908, when the aged Jonah recounts his ordeal to a newspaper reporter, the narrative follows him as he recovers Hattie and one of the boys. In the final chapter, Jonah promises the journalist a sequel relating his reunion with Gritta. Johnston has a good sense of place and a fine knowledge of history, but his writing is sloppy, and he indulges in far too many scenes of graphic violence and smarmily described sex. (Sept.)