Peter Bowen’s tales of Montana in transition are an acquired taste. When I first started reading them, at my sister’s recommendation, I had a hard time getting past the dialect. The main character, Gabriel DuPre, speaks English differently; he is Metis, a mixture of French, Indian and who knows what, here before America was America, as he says “long time gone.”
You get used to it. It still makes me think he should be in New Orleans, speaking as he does, it sounds very Cajun, but you get used to it.
Peter Bowen’s Gabriel DuPre is another treat to myself (like Donna Leon.) Reading the latest book I bought, saved for just this time, a cold wintery January, brightened my outlook considerably.
The first book I read, Wolf, No Wolf had to do with environmentalists putting wolves back into the mountains where once they had flourished, but where now, for a couple centuries, people have been raising cattle. Guess what? Hungry wolves love cattle. It makes for some very hostile feelings.
That theme – local culture against intruding environmentalists – continues in this book, where DuPre is hired as a consultant on a film being made about Lewis and Clark. The locals in the Coronado area are no happier with all the film crews and tourists than the ranchers were with the wolves – and people end up dead.
In addition, DuPre’s friend Benetsee and his daughter Maria spend time together in the sweat lodge, and later, his daughter, Marie, sees a mound and is revisited by a vision she had. She tells her dad, DuPre, to dig, and he uncovers a trove of treasures cached by the Lewis and Clark expedition. Partly, it is the incursion of the spiritual and supernatural that I find so intriguing in these books; there is a reality, and then a greater reality, and they co-exist. Bowen makes it seem and feel entirely natural. I love it.
The book has some highly entertaining, laugh-out-loud moments, takes great pokes at the eco-tourist, and at the same time deals with some serious issues. We get to hear DuPre fiddle his old Voyageur songs, we get to hear what people are saying at the local bar, where cheeseburgers are the plat du jour. It is a great way to pass a winter’s day.