“Peter Bowen does for Montana what Tony Hillerman does for New Mexico” (Midwest Book Review).
Gabriel Du Pré’s aunt Pauline has burned through more than her share of husbands, so it’s no surprise when she shows up in Toussaint complaining that the latest one, Badger, has run off. Du Pré, the Métis Indian fiddler, retired cattle inspector, and sometime deputy, agrees to go looking for her man. He finds him shot, execution-style, in the wilds of the Montana countryside. A chat with his contacts at the FBI reveals that Badger, a small-time drug smuggler, had been working for them since his last arrest. Pauline’s husband was bait, but the big fish got away.
The last lead was to a cabal of wealthy gamblers who pass their time racing horses in the barren Montana brush. To infiltrate their tight-knit syndicate, Du Pré goes undercover, lining up his own horse and jockey. He must tread lightly, because horses are not the only things these men shoot.
Gabriel Du Pré’s foray into the world of illegal horse racing is “as consistently entertaining as its predecessors. [Du Pré], ever skeptical of the modern world and its institutions, places his faith in people, the land, a hand-rolled smoke, and the occasional ditch-water highball” (Booklist).
Stewball is the 12th book in The Montana Mysteries Featuring Gabriel Du Pré series, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
In Bowen's winning 12th Gabriel Du Pr novel, the Montana lawman agrees to help his Aunt Pauline find her current husband, Badger, who's gone missing. Du Pr contacts his FBI friend, Harvey Wallace, who shows him a photo of Badger, shot dead at the base of the skull execution-style. And that's just the beginning of an investigation that involves a racehorse named Stewball, treasonous government agents and two, or possibly three, charred corpses in a plane. None of this seriously discomfits Du Pr , who remains as relaxed as ever, even in the face of illegal horse racing and a scalping. As in previous Du Pr books, the fast-paced narrative offers ample doses of local color, evenly spaced bursts of violence and an unforced, laid-back style. While this contemporary western mystery breaks no new ground, it rewards with its pleasing lack of pretension.