From Publishers Weekly
Native American assistant prosecutor Tom Freshour (last seen in The Whipping Boy, 1994) investigates a murder in Depression-era Fort Smith, Ark., on the Oklahoma border, in Morgan's Chandler-indebted fourth. The dead man, local eccentric Lee Guessner, trafficked artifacts from the famous Spiro Mound nearby, but was also involved in one of the elaborate real estate frauds that flourished at the time on former Native American lands. When lovely, smart-cookie Rainy Davis shows up as the unlikely inheritor (Lee had met her on a South American dig), she sparks Tom's love as he remembers wooing her mother. Along with trusty old court bailiff Hank, they sift through the local landscape and Native American heritage to exact justice, not only for murder, but also for crimes against Native American land, spirit and history. Years later, Tom tells the story into cylinders on an old Dictaphone machine and these are discovered later still, providing a neat framing device (and the story's title). Tom's tone shifts back and forth from sensitive outsider to marauding vigilante, but traditional characters like Tom's clueless wealthy boss, the dirty local sheriff and the judge with a secret make this a satisfying (if sometimes slow-moving) thriller with the added enjoyment of authentic depictions of Native American culture and history. (Oct.) FYI: Morgan is the editor of the Missouri Review.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This novel, set in dust bowl Oklahoma, has the atmosphere of a "B" movie and the flavor of Indiana Jones
. The secrets of the recent past compete with the mysteries of an ancient Native American civilization. The lives of the powerful and wealthy contrast with those of the drought-stricken and abused. Tom Freshour, a half-breed, local prosecutor, is asked to investigate the murder of a local collector of artifacts. A beautiful young woman is the mysterious heir to the murdered man's collection. She and Freshour find the motives, solve the crime, and produce a just end for the guilty. Unfortunately, Morgan attempts to frame the story as reality by prefacing it with a tale of boxes of wax dictaphone cylinders found in an old bank vault. The narrative that follows is supposed to be the transcript, hence the title, but it does not read that way. However, it is easy enough to ignore this and just get on with what is otherwise a very engaging and well-written novel. Danise Hoover