Monday, December 8, 2008

Murder and Mayhem in the Montana Mountains

When Neil McMahon walks on stage to give a reading he does not necessarily look like one would expect a Montana cowboy to look. In fact he is a carpenter who writes or more accurately a writer who does carpentry in Missoula. When he starts to read, his characters jump off the page and come alive.

It is not much different when reading one of his books. His characters are well rounded and are always doing things, getting into one jam after another. McMahon does not fill the pages with flowery descriptive prose of landscape and people but with punchy lines that get to the heart of the story and allow the reader to instantly sympathize with the character in a too real landscape.

In the first twenty pages of Lone Creek, the protagonist, a mature Hugh Davoren, is employed at his boyhood stomping grounds: the Pettyjohn Ranch in the Rocky Mountains northwest of Helena, Montana. During his weekly Saturday trip to the dump with the construction debris, he discovers two thoroughbred horses who have been savagely murdered. He has a run in with the foreman and the owner then lands in jail. The surroundings remind him of the girl he had a crush on who died when they were both teenagers.

What could be better to curl up with on a cold Montana afternoon when the North wind is tapping at the windows than a murder mystery that is so real it makes you afraid to walk out your back door?

But as a word of warning, once the last page of Neil McMahon’s Lone Creek is turned, you won’t want to let the Davoren go. Fortunately, you won’t have to because he reappears as the protagonist in McMahon’s latest novel Dead Silver.

Title: Lone Creek
Author: Neil McMahon
Number of Pages: 328
Cover Price: Hardcover $24.95
Trade paperback: $14.95
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: April 2007

Jullie Hoen is a nontraditional student at the University of Montana, Missoula. She will graduate in spring 2009 with a BA in English with Literature and Creative Writing options. When not in school she makes her home in Great Falls with her husband and dog.

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