St. Martin's, April 2002, 23.95,256 pp.
Gabriel Du Pre is in the hospital recovering from a burst appendix when he hears the news that somebody killed Maddy Collins. Somebody smashed her head in with a hatchet and left, leaving the front door open. There is no obvious motive for the seventy eight-year old woman's death since she was a bit of a recluse and never bothered anyone. When Du Pre leaves the hospital, he camps out in the back of Maddy's house, hoping that the perp will return to the scene of the crime.
He doesn't find a killer but he does notice two seventeen year olds who are curious about the crime scenes. He lets them go and the next thing he knows he's back in the hospital because somebody banged him pretty badly on the head. Somebody burns down Maddy's house and the fire spreads to the nearby Wolf Mountains where the bodies of the two teens seen at Maddy's now are discovered with bullets in their bodies. Gabriel is determined to flush out the person who has wrecked such havoc on his little Montana town.
Peter Bowen does for Montana what Tony Hillerman does for New Mexico. His regional mysteries, starring the unique character Gabriel Du Pre, are picturesque, totally absorbing and utterly charming. The author is so descriptive that one can picture the town of Toussaint in the mind's eye. Anyone who has not read a “Gabriel Do Pre mystery is missing out on something special.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner