Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Peter Bowen and Nails

Three men trundle a naked woman through the desert to a remote place, where she was placed in a container, 6 x 6 x 6 with only a candle, a cot, water and a holy book, until she could come to her senses and behave.

Four girls were strangled, one each day, for refusing the sexual advances of their father and his brother. The two youngest girls, their older sisters dead, complied.

Women with inconvenient views, women who start having thoughts of their own disappear. Many in this tribe are home-birthed and home-schooled, so there aren’t records of their existence, and when they disappear, no-one is the wiser.

Saudi Arabia, you ask? Pakistan? Afghanistan? Where on earth are women treated this vilely?

Peter Bowen, in Nails, gives vent to his frustration of minor fundamentalist Christian cults roaming the American West, many of them ending up in Montana where they believe they will have the privacy to practice their beliefs without interference, and where those who are well-funded can influence poverty-stricken school districts to toss out Science classes and incorporate Intelligent Design. Bowen has utter contempt for their studied ignorance, their need to be the sole authority on what the scriptures say, and their insistence on the utter submission of women.

His worst scorn is for their treatment of women – he attributes it to their fears about their own sexuality. Women are often the victims, Bowen states, when men worry about their size, worry about how to keep women faithful, tractable, and docile. (And let’s face it, who can successfully control a woman? 😉 )

This is the latest Gabriel du Pre novel, or at least the latest I have read. Gabriel du Pre is a retired brand inspector (he goes back every now and then when needed, when the brand inspector is overstretched, insuring that the cows sold are from the herds they are being sold from), Metis (French and Indian mix), a renowned fiddler, and a deputy sheriff when the sheriff – or the FBI – needs help solving a particularly tricky murder. It takes a while to get your ear used to his dialect, and he spends a lot of time in bars, but the man has a real knack for figuring things out.

Gabriel du Pre is everything a straight-living woman like myself shouldn’t like. He drinks, morning to night, keeps his flask of whisky under the driver’s seat in his car. He drives way over the speed limit. He doesn’t go to church, he goes to an ancient Indian spiritualist / medicine man when he needs guidance. He isn’t married to the wry, very smart woman with whom he lives. He breaks the rules, he goes outside the boundaries.

For all his flaws, du Pre has a deep down, rock solid core of decency, and a way of looking at life and situations that is practical and . . . forgiving. He is charitable toward his brothers and sisters. He detests cruelty, especially when the strong take advantage of the weak or the arrogant walk all over the humble. There is something about this flawed hero that keeps the reader coming back for more.

His Gabriel du Pre novels are not heavy reading. You can toss one off in about half a day, but they are not so simple as they appear. You find yourself thinking about the issues he raises, and you find yourself looking to see when the next Gabriel du Pre mystery will appear.

You can find this on Amazon.com for $16. new or from $3.07 used, plus shipping of course. (Yes, I own stock in Amazon.com.) 🙂

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Crime, Family Issues, Fiction, Law and Order, Local Lore, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , | 4 Comments