Blue Hen, Jun 2002, 24.95, 288 pp.
In the 1940s on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, Louise White Elk finds herself pulled in opposite directions. She knows that Baptiste Yellow Knife is considered the local bad guy and she has known that since he blew some weird white powder into her face when she was nine. Still she finds the lure from the excitement that Baptiste generates by dancing to his own drum hard to resist. Like a moth to the light she is drawn to Baptiste though her brains screams not go down that path because she has experienced his abusive selfishness.
On the other hand married police officer Charlie Kicking Woman also struggles with the pull of two worlds as he tries to enforce the law. Though married, he desires Louise, but does his best to hide his feelings for the enigmatic woman. Hanging over this potential triangle is the impact of Harvey Stoner who owns everything and is willing to use his material advantage to “buy” what he covets, but will that include murder?
PERMA RED is an insightful period piece that works at its best when Charlie, Baptiste, and Louise stand on center stage and either interact or fail to relate. Whenever Harvey or Charlie's wife enters the engaging story line's “sacred” triangle, they seem to disjoint the plot as intruders. Still, Debra Magpie Earling paints a discerning portrait of 1940s life on a reservation starring three strong key characters.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner