Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklySet down in plain language that mirrors the forbidding desert landscape of Nevada, this brooding, complex novel by Bergon (Shoshone Mike), professor of English at Vassar College, is based on a true crime. On New Year's Eve, 1982, Jack Irigaray, an idealistic Reno wildlife biologist struggling with alcoholism and a wife searching for self-realization in New Age occultism, is called out by a local game warden to assist in the investigation of Billy Crockett, a renegade trapper illegally operating in the remote Nevada high country. Caught red-handed, Billy, claiming self-defense, fatally shoots the warden and a hapless bystander. After forcing Jack at gunpoint to help dispose of the bodies, Billy wounds him and flees into the desert. The plot chronicles the nine-year pursuit, capture, conviction, escape and recapture of Billy, but this is highly allegorical. In the process, Bergon exposes questions of misplaced hero-worship and the clash of the vestigial Old West lone-wolf mentality with the contemporary neon-lit dice table civilization-all of this while Jack, trying to find his own salvation, plunges deeper into his addictions. As entertaining as it is disturbing, this postmodern tale of crime and punishment is a triumph of old-fashioned storytelling. (Apr.)
Library JournalIn the wilds of modern Nevada, poacher Billy Crockett shoots and kills game warden Bob Pritchard, execution style, and then intentionally wounds the dead man's partner, wildlife biologist Jack Irigaray. Why he wasn't killed, too, is a question that nearly destroys Irigaray in the terrible years ahead as he struggles to bring Crockett, who is now a folk hero, to justice. Inspired by a true-life shooting, this well-written novel explores a recurring issue in the Rocky Mountain West-the rule of law or society vs. the so-called natural rights of the well-armed survivalist. The vivid sense of place, excellent characterization, plus a carefully paced narrative make for a compelling story. By the author of Shoshone Mike (LJ 10/15/87), this new novel is an outstanding literary work in the tradition of Walter Van Tilburg Clark's Old West classic The Ox-Bow Incident (1940). Highly recommended.-James B. Hemesath, Adams State Coll. Lib., Alamosa, Col.
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