Tuesday, May 12, 2009
James Lee Burke has written a winner.
The novel "In The Moon of Red Ponies" is set in Missoula, Montana. It tells the story of how everyday man can make a difference when combating corporate America.
Johnny American Horse is a war hero. He is attempting to stop the oil companies from drilling on Indian land. He senses that they have put a "hit" on him. When two men break into his home he ambushes them killing one and putting the other into the hospital. When the injured man is suffocated at the hospital, Johnny is arrested.
Convinced of Johnny's innocence, Billy Bob Thornton, a former Texas Ranger, puts his ranch up as collateral for Johnny's bail.
There is much discussion of law on Indian reservations and how American Indians are treated when crimes are committed off the reservation.
There is a break in at a research lab and a number of Indians are involved. Johnny, once again a suspect. Powerful corporate officials want their sensitive documents back and dirty tricks happen to Johnny, Billy Bob and anyone not siding with them.
We meet Wyatt Dixon who had been an evil character in a past Burke novel. He had almost killed Billy Bob's wife Temple. Now Wyatt is released from the prison. He claims to have been born again and wants to repay his misdeeds to Billy Bob.
The story is told with feeling towards the struggle that Wyatt, Johnny and Billy Bob have when confronted to powerful enemies. Wyatt proves heroic and Johnny elusive. I felt some of the influence of Tony Hillerman in Johnny's mystic visions. There are some unanswered questions but I feel that Burke is telling us that life doesn't always come in neat packages, some evil is not punished but the attempt for bettering man's environment is heroic.
Another fine story and highly recommended.