IN THE MOON OF RED PONIES
by James Lee Burke
Category: Fiction / Crime
8 pages; ISBN: 0743537203
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
The title of this book brings to mind the Southwest and Native Americans. It was set in the Bitterroot Mountains of Missoula Montana, a place I would never have known there were reservations. Mr. Burke writes a story that involves many characters and many happenings and you need to pay attention to so you don’t lose track of who, what, where and when things are happening.
In The Moon of Red Ponies, Billy Bob Holland is a lawyer who gets involved in the troubles of Johnny American Horse and his girlfriend, Amber Finley. There is a cast of players to keep straight, such as, Wyatt Dickson, Senator Findley, Darrel McComb, Greta Lundstrohm, the DA, a less than scrupulous lawyer, Seth Masterson, and Billy Bob’s wife, Temple and son, Lucas.
Johnny’s cause as an activist for land preservation as well as the rights of his Native American brothers has Johnny up against those with money, power and political connections. Johnny has past military service and that, combined with his teachings as a Native American provide plenty of tactics to keep him one step ahead of the bad guys. Unfortunately, he has become a drunk and this makes him a good target on which to pin the break-in of a research unit.
Wyatt has been released from jail and is back to cause trouble for the very people he was sent to jail for trying to murder – Temple Holland. Wyatt found Jesus in jail and between that and the “chemical cocktails” he takes, he wants to help Billy Bob catch the bad guys. Billy Bob doesn’t trust him any father than he can throw him and Temple just wants him to leave them alone.
Darrel is a good cop that had become rough around the edges and has blurred the lines between good and bad. He gets involved with Greta who leads him down the primrose path but not quite all the way to the end before Darrell catches on to what is happening and makes a last ditch effort to prove he really is the good cop he has always been.
The reader, Tom Stechschulte, has a voice that provides each character with its own unique inflection and tone so it is easy to know who is speaking. James Lee Burke describes the mountains and streams; a little of the life on a reservation; and what can happen when money and greed come together. It is a story that is involved and complex. He leaves the story with the problems Wyatt causes unsolved – maybe so he can write a sequel? The ending is less than resolved in this writer’s opinion but does not leave every question unanswered.