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Du Pré limped into the Toussaint Saloon. He slid up on a stool, wincing.
"What the hell happened to you?" said Susan Klein, not looking up from her knitting.
"Shoeing horses," said Du Pré. "One of them he don't like it so good."
"How bad?" she said.
"There is this sound," said Du Pré, "when his hock hit my ribs. Like when you crunch carrots, your teeth."
"Coughing any blood?" asked Susan Klein. She still didn't look up from her knitting.
"No big clots," said Du Pré.
"You want sympathy or a drink?" said Susan. She frowned at the wool in her hands.
"Both," said Du Pré.
Susan put her knitting down on the bartop. She went to the well and put ice in a tall glass with whiskey and water.
She pushed the drink over to Du Pré.
"You pore ol' son of a bitch," she said, looking at him mournfully.
Du Pré nodded.
Susan went back to her stool and sat.
Click click click went her needles.
"Harvey Wallace called for you," said Susan. "He said he will call back."
"I am dead, tell him, ver' sad, but the funeral is tomorrow," said Du Pr
Harvey Fucking Weasel Fat Wallace, Du Pré thought, Blackfeet FBI Agent, never calls me with any goodnews.
"That would be telling an untruth," said Susan Klein.
"OK," said Du Pré, "I will tell him I am dead. Ow." He rubbed his ribs.
The door opened and a couple of ranchers came in laughing. They they took the drinks to the pool table and the balls thundered out of the belly of the table. A rancher racked them and the other broke; balls clacked.
"Shit," said one of the ranchers.
Du Pré rolled a smoke, and he lit it and blew out a long stream of blue-gray cloud.
"They really grind up dog turds to mix in that stuff?" said Susan Klein.
"Poodle," said Du Pré. "Ver' expensive dogs."
A ball rattled down a pocket.
"Whoeee!" said a rancher.
The telephone rang. Susan Klein didn't stir.
Neither did Du Pré.
The telephone rang and rang and rang. Finally, one of the ranchers went to the pay phone and picked it up.
"Yeah?" he said. He listened.
"Du Pré!" he said. "Fer you."
Du Pré sighed, and he got up and walked slowly toward the old box on the wall by the front door. The rancher who had answered it looked at him.
"Thanks," said Du Pré, "from my heart."
The rancher grinned.
Du Pré lifted the receiver to his ear.
"Yah," he said.
"Du Pré," said Harvey Wallace. "Long time no come to phone. You prick."
"I am dead," said Du Pré. "Ver' sad, you should come, the funeral, it is tomorrow."
"You don't want to talk to me," said Harvey. "I told my boss that you wouldn't. I said, `Du Pré will tell me to go to hell,' what I said. She said to try my best. Or I'd be out there, in the fucking cactus, eating fried calf nuts and smelling that stinking goddamned sagebrush and all the rest of that shit I couldn't wait to get away from."
"She say all that?" said Du Pré. "She knows you good, huh?"
"Very smart lady," said Harvey. "Scary, actually. Here I am, drawing a fat government paycheck and bennies and all, and the ungrateful bitch wants me to work, too."
"I was kicked, a horse, today," said Du Pré. "And me, I come here to have some nice drinks, sit, smoke a little, get used to my ribs which are not the ribs I woke up with, this morning, they have changed. So maybe you could stop telling me, your work troubles, ask me what it is you want me to do so I can say go fuck yourself, Harvey and go back, get used to my ribs."
"We have a problem maybe," said Harvey. "Actually I lied. My boss actually did not say a word to me. Nobody has. But, well, I don't have very much to do, you know, this being government work, and so I read the newspapers, lots of newspapers, and I even read some of what folks call newspapers out where you are."
"My ribs," said Du Pré. "They are waiting, your punch line."
"For the last three years," said Harvey, "people have been disappearing over there on the Missouri."
"Yah," said Du Pré, "'We have this governor, Meagher, he fall in long time ago they don't find him. So he is who I am looking for?"
"I smell trouble," he said. "Look, nine people have just up and flat evaporated in the last three years. They all were going down the river through that White Cliffs area, you know, Fort Benton on—"
"To the dam," said Du Pré.
"Yeah," said Harvey. "They found their boats, floating down in the river, and they found their gear, some of it anyway, but the people they never did find...."
Du Pré sighed. He rubbed his sore ribs.
"Too bad," said Du Pré. "They go down the river covers them, mud and sand, they don't come up. Happens, you know."
"I know," said Harvey, "but I just don't like this."
"So," said Du Pré, "so send one of the Mormons you got, you know, the wing tips the suit, blend in so good, have them ask them questions."
"Very funny," said Harvey. "But there is something else. The local law there doesn't seem to care very much."
"Shit," said Du Pré. "They are lost, the river, but don't know what county they are lost in? They got no money at all, Harvey, is why they do not care. They got maybe a sheriff, two deputies, county big as them states back where you are, they got troubles now, yes."
"Maybe," he said.
"Oh," said Du Pré. "You got no jurisdiction, can't send nobody, so you call me, your good friend Du Pré, him got the broken ribs and he is ver' thirsty, say, Du Pré, you maybe go up there, snoop around for your old friend Harvey, see maybe you can find a crime, one that he likes ..."
"Fuck you, no," said Du Pré.
"I guess," said Harvey, "I'll have to talk to Madelaine."
"Prick," said Du Pré.
"Thing is," said Harvey, "much as I talk about the West and say I hope never to see goddamn prickly pear cactus and smell sage again I don't really mean it. What I am afraid of—"
"They already start a war out here, Harvey," said Du Pré. "They say, the ranchers, you are so bad for the environment. I know people get killed here, long time."
"I don't want that," said Harvey.
"Me either," said Du Pré.
"Good," said Harvey. "I knew I could count on you."
"NON!" yelled Du Pré.
"Thing was, well, about the dog...." said Harvey.
"My ribs hurt, I need a drink, I say no, non, Harvey, it is nice talking to you always. Go fuck the dog now, be happy," said Du Pré.
"It was this bloodhound," said Harvey.
Susan Klein brought Du Pré his drink. He had some.
"I sent this guy out there, look around a little," said Harvey.
"Wing tips, dark suit," said Du Pré.
"Ranch kid from Wyoming," said Harvey. "Supposed to be looking for a little spread, up on the river."
Du Pré sighed.
"He's there about three days, no motel, so he's got this little motor home, you know," said Harvey.
"Fuck," said Du Pré.
"One morning he's camped down by the river on BLM land, in this little grove of trees. Scratching at the door. My guy figures it is a dog got lost, he opens the door, there's the dog."
Du Pré waited.
"Big bloodhound," said Harvey. "Long face, big ears, and this sign on a string around his neck."
Du Pré muttered curses under his breath.
"Want to know what the sign says?" said Harvey.
Du Pré waited.
"Look on my collar," said Harvey. "So my guy does and there is this little brass plaque there, got the dog's name on it and a phone number."
Du Pré waited.
"My name is Whispering Smith," said Harvey. "That was the dog's name, I mean."
"There is no sign on that dog, look at my collar," said Du Pré.
"No, there wasn't," said Harvey. "But I thought I needed to add that for dramatic effect."
"Son of a bitch," said Du Pré.
"You know who Whispering Smith was?" said Harvey.
"Yes," said Du Pré.
Copyright © 2001 Darryl McDaniels and Bruce Haring. All rights reserved.
Posted March 2, 2014
I am a fan of Peter Bowen's Montana Mysteries. Protagonist Gabriel du Pre, his friends and family, and the other characters that make up his world, almost feel like some of those online friends that you can chat with but have never seen face to face and probably never will. Not that du Pre would actually ever bother to connect to the Internet, or even attempt to use a computer.
This novel, the 8th in the series, has du Pre acting as a technical advisor on a movie about Lewis and Clark – and checking out what happened to some outsiders who were killed in the area as a favor to the FBI.
Like most of the other books I've read in this series to date, the author manages to present a mystery to me, make me think I've figured it out, then pull the rug out from under me. THEN toss a bone that maybe I was right all along … or that the reason I went off on that red herring was because I didn't know one important fact – only to pull the rug out all over again.
If you have not read any of the books in this series – what is keeping you???
RATING: 5 stars. I finished the book 6 weeks ago and the plot, action, and characters still exist vividly in my mind.
Posted July 20, 2001
Peter Bowen has been writing his tales of Gabriel Du Pre, a Metis Indian, master fiddler, detective and righter-of-wrongs extraordinaire for some time now. Du Pre, his mate, Madelaine and his many dear friends in Toussaint, Montana have acquired a loyal following during that time. Bowen¿s new book, ¿Cruzatte and Maria¿ is his finest yet, and will greatly please all readers, new and old. When Du Pre¿s old friend in the FBI, Harvey Wallace, asks him to look into a series of disappearances in the White Cliffs area of the Missouri River Gabriel is troubled and refuses to become involved. Residents of that area, mostly ranchers, have been under continuous attack by environmentalists and encroachment by yuppie wilderness seekers. Du Pre understands the ranchers¿ struggle and senses an underlying, irresolvable tragedy. Unfortunately, Du Pre¿s is unable to maintain his distance. His daughter Maria has returned to Toussaint with her boyfriend to help with the making of a television special on the Lewis and Clark voyage. Maria is descended on both sides from the four Metis Indians that accompanied the adventurers and Gabriel is dragged into the production as a consultant and advisor. Naturally, the movie is to be filmed on the banks of the Missouri, in the same location as the disappearances. Gabriel smells a set up, but concedes gracefully (actually he curses a lot) and undertakes both missions. As the story progresses Du Pre¿s worst fears and greatest hopes are realized. Metis life and history, politics, Hollywood and the rancher¿s struggle for recognition and independence mix together in a heady, sometimes disquieting, stew. Bowen is an absolute wizard with characters. Not only Du Pre, but many other characters come brilliantly to life, even in the short space of this novel. Bart, Du Pre¿s billionaire friend and Benetsee, the mad/wise holy man who drives Du Pre crazy with riddles stand out. A new and special character is Pallas, one of Du Pre¿s eleven grandchildren. She will totally charm the reader with her seven-going-on-thirty attitude and her sharp, accurate tongue. The ranchers, members of the movie company and countless bit players are all unforgettably painted. Perhaps the best thing about Bowen¿s writing is his insight into the Metis Indians. They are a tribe mostly forgotten to American and Canadian history, who played a great part in the fur trade in Canada and Montana. As a multi-tribal mixture of indigenous, French and Scottish blood they have had great difficulty gaining recognition as an independent culture. The are strong folk, with a rich musical tradition and an indomitable spirit. Bowen¿s Metis are people of great character, wry, fun loving, and deeply respectful of their people, their friends and the land they live on. Bowen captures their language and dry sarcastic wit perfectly. The reader will leave ¿Cruzatte and Maria¿ delighted to have spent time with these remarkable people.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.