cover image Stony Mesa Sagas

Stony Mesa Sagas

Chip Ward. Torrey House, $17.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-937226-85-5

Ward refracts the challenges of the modern American Southwest in this zany mosaic debut novel. In three nearly self-contained sections, residents of tiny Stony Mesa face off against outsiders who fail to appreciate the land. The first plot pits wannabe cowboy Bo Hineyman and his neon-signed tourist trap bar against townspeople as his daughter, Luna Waxwing, returns to Stony Mesa to protest an oil sands development. Hineyman’s death spawns a murder investigation and allows Luna to reshape his ranch into a more ecologically sound operation. The second section ruminates on the scars of earlier development: the discovery of a mass grave stalls out a proposed minimansion project. In the final section, members of a corrupted church, greedy seekers of water rights, and an anti-Federal militia all clash with ragtag conservationists. Throughout, Ward manages to make a wide range of views understandable—those of ranchers, activist hippies, conflicted Native Americans, and retired urbanites—while pillorying outsiders who have no love for the land. A cast of entertaining characters, slowly revealed mysteries, and plot twists produce an immersive and powerful tale of finding beauty in a harsh landscape. (Nov.)