cover image Dream Catcher

Dream Catcher

Terry C. Johnston. Bantam Books, $21.95 (446pp) ISBN 978-0-553-09669-9

Writing with a vivid sense of time and place, Johnston here completes the story of Jonah Hook told in Cry of the Hawk and Winter Rain, in which the Missouri Confederate soldier trekked to Utah to rescue his wife and three children from the clutches of a ruthless Mormon terrorist. Interwoven with the novel's main plot line-Hook's rescue of his wife-are disjointed episodes from a major subplot concerning the opium-fueled passions of the disfigured Chinese proprietor of a saloon, whorehouse and opium den in a Nevada gold-mining camp. Set in 1875 but narrated in flashback to a journalist in 1908, Johnston's saga is preoccupied with violence and replete with lurid sex. While historical details like the description of a Mormon marriage ceremony prove intriguing, the novel ultimately founders under the weight of tiresome repetition, ragged writing and characters' mundane exchanges during harrowing circumstances. With its Perils of Pauline-like scenario stretching the bounds of credibility, readers will find it difficult to empathize with these characters or care about their assorted tribulations. (Oct.)