An interesting, slice-of-Montana-life story that was mildly marred by the last three pages.
The story is ostensibly a mystery, but the hero is a cattle-inspector, and only part-time deputy, and is the sort of half-hearted deputy that thinks most things will solve themselves without an official hand. It doesn’t help that the Sheriff is a committed drunk (as in wholly committed to being drunk).
“How come you didn’t put this in an evidence bag?’
‘Didn’t have any,’ said Du Pré. ‘Remember, I inspect brands. They don’t make evidence bags big enough put a cow in.’
The Sheriff looked at him hard, fuzzed up, trying to come back but too much Canadian hooch on his tongue, just sitting there.
‘What about that cowboy found this?’
‘Oh, no,’ said Du Pré. ‘That dummy, he wasn’t even born this happened. No.'”
The narrative is told in a fragmented, almost poetic style, with a sort of refrain coming up again and again. It adds to the mood, but does not add to the sense of resolution or to the story for those who like a more clear-cut narrative (as the mom-reader said, “this is weird.”)
‘Their work made the FAA inspectors direct.
‘You Indian?’ one said. Not ‘Native American.’
‘Some,’ said Du Pre. ‘A lot, really. But Frenchy enough so the anthropologists don’t bother us.’
‘A blessing,’ said the FAA man. ‘My sister was married to an anthropologist for a while.’
The FAA men had come in by plane and a helicopter had been chartered from a local cropduster. Du Pre hated helicopters. The fucking things could not possibly fly, or anyway not long enough. Whack whack whack. I ask you.
Du Pre sat by the pilot to point out the way.”
There’s solid themes here–that I feel might have been ruined by the ending–and an interesting intersection of Native-rancher-rural life. When it interacts with big-city, big-money, it becomes a bit predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless.