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After boarding, he found himself seated next to an elderly woman who was weeping quietly. She was still crying when, twenty minutes later, she offered a whispered apology, but he pretended sleep. Whatever her problem was, he didn't want to hear it. He had no interest in hearing people whine.
When she left her seat to go to the lavatory, he slipped from the first-class cabin and found an empty row near the back of the plane.
For a while he tried to read but gave it up when he felt a headache coming on. He hadn't slept at all the night before, hadn't even gone to bed. Instead, he'd spent the hours sitting on his balcony, trying to persuade himself not to make this trip.
Then, just before five that morning, he'd phoned to make his flight reservation, left a vague message on his receptionist's answering machine and pulled a suitcase from his closet.
Now, with his stomach churning from too much airport coffee, his knees wedged against the seat in front of him, his body heavy with fatigue, he decided that when the plane landed, he'd give this up. Take the next available flight back to L.A.
But he didn't.
After he picked up his rental, a Mitsubishi Eclipse, and a map at Tulsa International Airport, he headed east.
The Avis blue-chip car, the only convertible available, wouldn't have been his first choice; he drove a Jaguar XK8 in L.A. But even before he drove out of the city, he realized he'd underestimated the Oklahoma heat, well over a hundred, with humidity so high that his shirt was plastered to his back despite the hot wind.
The two-hour drive took him through mostly empty country, the highway skirting towns called Coweta, Tullahassee, Oktaha-names that conjured scenes of Gene Autry movies.
He arrived in DeClare before dark, then checked into the Riverfront Motel, which looked just a little more inviting than the White Buffalo Inn at the edge of town or a decrepit hotel called the Saddletree a few blocks away.
His room was about what he expected. Drab and cramped, smaller even than the dorm room he'd lived in at Tufts for five years. Behind the drapes he found sliding glass doors leading to a balcony that overlooked a river backed by woods of towering pines.
He didn't bother to unpack, but he hadn't brought much anyway. He wasn't planning to stick around long.
The motel restaurant was crowded, according to his waitress, because it was Thursday.
"Catfish night," she explained, managing to turn "night" into a three-syllable word. "All you can eat for six ninety-five."
"Is it baked?" he asked, a question she thought was hilarious.
"You're not an Okie, are you? Only one way to fix catfish, and that's to fry it. You want baked fish, be here for the Sunday buffet. We have baked cod then. But come before noon, 'cause when the churches let out, this place is packed."
"I'll be gone before Sunday."
"Not staying long, huh?"
Though he'd already framed the lie, he hesitated. Another chance to back out.
"I'm here to look up some old friends of my parents."
He felt his heart quicken, his breath come short. But he was in it now.
"A family named Harjo."
"Which one? We got Harjos scattered all over this part of the country. They're all related, one way or another. Ben was the oldest, I think."
"Where can I find him?"
"He's dead, but his wife, Enid, lives way the hell out in the boonies. Can't tell you how to get there. Your best bet is Teeve. She was married to a Harjo. He took off years ago, but she's still close to the family. She runs the pool hall on Main Street."
After his dinner, and with enough fat in his system to grease axle rods, he walked to the center of town. Four depressing blocks scarred by struggle and failure. Buildings of crumbling native stone, many of them empty; a boarded-up movie theater, its marquee advertising a citywide garage sale; a bank wearing a new facade, the centerpiece a massive clock running an hour late.
Business owners battling the Wal-Mart east of town had tried to lure customers back by installing canvas awnings, camouflaging peeling paint with cheap brick veneer, placing wrought-iron benches on the corner of every block. But the awnings were tattered and fading, the veneer was flaking paint and the benches were covered with pigeon droppings.
The pool hall, closed by the time he got there, didn't look as if it were faring any better than other businesses he'd passed along the way. The sign reading TEEVE'S PLACE hung crookedly over the door, and the plate glass window fronting the building bore a foot-long crack patched with caulk and masking tape.
Inside, a fluorescent bulb blinked in a tin ceiling pitted with rust. The long, narrow room was crowded with a makeshift counter, pool tables from another era, video games, vending machines and a game table with four mismatched chairs.
As he turned and started back toward the motel, a mud-splattered pickup drove by, a rifle mounted in the back window, a Confederate flag strapped across the grille, two pit bull pups chained in the truck bed.
If he'd been back home just then, he might have been cussing the traffic clogging the 405 or complaining of the heavy brown air dimming the sun or fighting the panic he felt when a tremor hit.
But at that moment, Los Angeles seemed like paradise.
Excerpted from SHOOT THE MOON by Billie Letts Copyright © 2004 by Billie Letts. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted November 23, 2008
I've read several of Ms Letts' novels and have loved each and every one of them. Her characters were a tad on the eccentric side and her writing made me care about all of them. <BR/><BR/>Her newest novel, though, is somewhat different. In the first place, though it doesn't quite fall in the genre, it could easily be termed a mystery - something I wasn't prepared for when I picked up this book. In the second place, at least one, possibly two, of the characters in "Shoot the Moon" is a definite SOB - O Boy Daniels, the local sheriff; and Arthur McFadden, his half-brother and owner of the local radio station. <BR/><BR/>The plot in and of itself is nothing to write home about. Mark Albright, a Hollywood veterinarian, discovers after his parents deaths that he was adopted and manages to trace his roots back to DeClare, Oklahoma. He travels to DeClare to find out about his biological parents and winds up in the middle of a small-town drama. Turns out his mother was killed when he was a baby, and until he showed up the town thought he was dead too. <BR/><BR/>The rest of the book concerns Mark's search for himself (as Mark Albright and as Nicky Jack Harjo, the name he was born with), for his parents, and for the killer of his mother. Along the way we meet and get to know several interesting characters, on both sides of the moral fence - the aforementioned sheriff and radio station owner; Teeve Harjo, owner of the local mom-and-pop store and her pregnant daughter Ivy; and Hap Duchamp, local lawyer and Matt Donaldson, the local fire chief - the unlikeliest couple, gay or straight, that you will ever run across. <BR/><BR/>The only fault I can find with this story is that Letts didn't give full descriptions of her characters until the story was well under way. It took me a while to realize that Mark and his biological mother were Native Americans, which turns out to be central to the plot. But once that confusion was cleared up it turns out that "Shoot the Moon" is a wonderful small-town mystery by someone who, it seems, could write another one if she wanted to.
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Posted June 9, 2006
I was disappointed after first reading Where the Heart Is and Honk and Holler. I loved her first two books but Shoot the Moon doesn't even come close.The characters were not as interesting and the ending was just boring.I was sorry to finish the first two and happy to be done with this one.
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Posted August 22, 2004
This was disappointing. I loved Where the Heart Is and enjoyed Honk & Holler Opening Soon, but Shoot the Moon was a let-down. Not at all up to the standard Letts set with her previous two books. I wasn't enjoying this from the start but stuck with it based on the other books. I should have given up sooner. The characters weren't that likable and in the end, when the truth came out, I wasn't shocked nor did I really care. Something that really bothered me was how the characters dealt with another character's choice to put her baby up for adoption. They acted as if adoption is never a good idea. Sometimes, adoption is the only good choice a woman can make for an unplanned pregnancy. I know a lot of people who were adopted as infants or children and in nearly every case, it was a wonderful thing. Esp. now that the birth mother can choose the family who will adopt her baby. This just topped off my already growing dislike for the story. I'm really glad I borrowed this from the library instead of buying a copy...
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Posted December 30, 2013
Posted December 13, 2013
Not only is it a good story but it's very well written. Although somewhat predictable, I read it in a couple of days (ok stayed up til the wee hours of each morning) so enthralled by what the outcome would be. Not what you'd expect!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
A Great Oklahoma Tale
I chose this book because it was once a #1 New York Times Bestseller and because the author, Billie Letts, is an Oklahoman. Being an Okie author myself, I wanted to get a feel for what it takes to be a New York Times Bestseller. Shoot the Moon was an enjoyable read. It was easy to get into the story, was a quick page-turner, and had some unexpected twists and turns.
The story begins when Mark Albright, an upscale Hollywood veterinarian, learns that he is adopted and returns to Oklahoma to discover his roots. When he gets to DeClare, Oklahoma, he is shocked to find that his mother had been murdered some thirty years earlier. At the time it was presumed that her ten-month-old baby had also been murdered even though the baby’s body had never been found. He believes he is this baby. It is an unsolved crime that Albright is determined to solve. He is also intent on learning who his biological father is. Some in DeClare, however, are not happy to see him return and do not want this crime reinvestigated.
Lett’s description of life in small-town Oklahoma seemed authentic and her characters were well drawn. I thought the racial prejudice regarding Indians in the late sixties was exaggerated. Growing up in Oklahoma, I didn’t feel there was much racial tension between Indians and whites. Of course, your perception of how much prejudice exists is a very personal experience depending on your viewpoint. I grew up near a town that had a military base, and different races and religions were more easily accepted. If I had lived in a different part of Oklahoma, perhaps I would have been more aware of this prejudice. I do know that there was a prejudice against Indians in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, but I didn’t think it still existed in the sixties and seventies.
One incident in the story that caught my attention was when Albright was shot in the leg and the bullet goes completely through his leg. As Lett’s describes it, “it didn’t involve bone, artery or nerve. Even missed muscle.” I think most would find it hard to believe that a bullet could go completely through a person’s thigh and not hit anything unless that person were quite obese, and Albight is described as being slender. Also, Albright, a veterinarian seemed quite unschooled in some of the basics of medicine. For example he seems to have very little knowledge of blood types and DNA tests. I think most of us by junior high school have already learned something of blood typing.
The diary inserts were a stroke of writing genius on Lett’s part. Through these pages scattered throughout the book, you gradually get to know the private thoughts and feelings of Albight’s murdered teenage mother.
The ending of the book came across as being rushed. It seemed as if Lett’s was in a hurry to tie up all of the loose ends and get on to her next book. I wish that we could give half stars. My actual rating for this book is 4 ½ stars because of this rushed ending, which also seemed a little too contrived as it tied up all the loose ends. I enjoyed the book - a recommended read that includes romance, mystery, action, and gives the reader a true-to-life feeling of small town Oklahoma.
Posted September 7, 2013
The book is really strong in the beginning and has some turns you don't expect but has parts that drag and made me not sure I even wanted to finish the book. I finally did finish it but it ended strangeWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 15, 2013
This book is an interesting story, and I really enjoyed Ms. Letts writing style. Everything was described so well and I never felt that I was missing something. But I also never felt that there was too much detail and that it got boring at points; Ms. Letts found the perfect balance in her descriptions. When you start reading this, you immediately love Nicky Jack. He doesn't really know anything about his family and as he learns, you can see how much he wishes to have known them longer. The little bit of romance shocked me at first, as I'm sure it will for other readers. However, then I began rooting for them and I hoped the story would go a little more into detail about their relationship (but thats probably just the part of me that loves romance stories).
The book centers on Nicky Jack trying to find out what happened to his mother almost 30 years ago. The story plays out in a very interesting fashion. I never saw the end coming; it keeps you guessing until the very last pages. It really breaks your heart when you find out what happened and why; but I guess that's what makes it such a great story.
Posted April 14, 2013
Posted September 14, 2012
CD/Abridged/Mystery: I really liked this book. It's about a 30 year old murder of a mother and her son missing and presumed dead. Only when a Beverly Hills veterinarian comes to town to find his birth parents, only to find he is the missing son. There were great characters, great plot lines. The narrator is Lou Diamond Phillips and he did a wonderful job with the voices and reading. I don't think I could have handled unabridged. As it was, I had to take the CD out of my car and listen to it on my computer at work! I had to know who the murderer was. I definitely recommend it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 21, 2012
Posted January 7, 2011
I read this great lil' book in one sitting.....You won't be disappointed. I absolutely loved this book! Not only a good little mystery, but heartwarming too.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 27, 2010
Posted June 22, 2009
Posted March 6, 2009
This book started out interesting but quickly went downhill. Dr. Mark Albright (AKA Nicky Jack Harjo) comes to town in search of his birth mother. A cruel sheriff, gay lawyer, and his sarcastic cousin, Ivy, are only a few of the characters he meets on his journey of self-discovery. Conflicts are easily dealt with, pretty predictable plot. The Epilogue puts a big ol' bow on the story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 19, 2009
Shoot the Moon had interesting characters which were easily to relate to from your own childhood and hometown, and yet the plot offered enough twists to keep your interest to the end of the story. It was an enjoyable read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 18, 2008
I really enjoyed this book. I'm an avid reader but hadn't found anything in awhile that held my interest like this one did. I highly recommend this book and I'll be reading more from this author.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 30, 2008
Shoot The Moon tells about the thirty-year disappearance of Mark kidnapped as an infant from a small town Oklahoma. After the death of his adoptive parents he finds his adoption decree and birth certificate and takes off to find his biological parents. When he arrives he learns he was taken the night his mother was murdered. Along with the accused man¿s son they find the true murder of Mark¿s biological mother, his biological father, the reason why the accused man was accused then murdered, and set the town free of its secrets.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 21, 2008
I was looking for another book as mysterious and dark as 'Sharp Objects'. While this isn't quite so dark it is very well written and fun to read. I couldn't put it down. I didn't like Ms. Letts last book 'The Honk and Holler Opening Soon' but heard from a friend that this was much better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 14, 2008
I absolutely loved this book. Billie Letts is truly a great author. After reading her other novel, Where the Heart Is, I knew I would enjoy this book and I was right. It was a great story, great characters, and excellent writing. Highly recommend!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.