cover image The Field Guide to North American Males

The Field Guide to North American Males

Marjorie Ingall, Majorie Ingall. Henry Holt & Company, $9.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-4219-1

The floral-and-feather cover of this latest fancifully titled historical by the author of Miss Ellie's Purple Sage Saloon belies its gritty portrayal of relations between men and women and between whites and Native Americans. The year is 1891, and Kate Burke, a married photographer with a burning passion to capture the Old West in its authenticity, finds herself on the nasty end of Colonel Elliot George's temper when she defies his command to stop photographing Indians (or more specifically, the mistreatment of Indians) and stick to making ""parlor pretties."" The colonel is the kind of guy who collects picture frames fashioned from Indian women's genitals, and one gets the sense that he'd like to add Kate's to his collection. He tries to bring her under his control by blowing up her wagon, leaving her a widow. Kate counters by exposing the colonel through a photograph her late husband had taken, and though the colonel doesn't get the comeuppance readers might want, Kate eventually finds fame as a photographer and an independent happiness. In Kate, Hurd has created a fine, gutsy heroine who is tough as her time, her place and her men. (Jan.)