One reader has compared this novel to No Country For Old Men because of a murderous central character, John Cload, who brings to mind yet another dark work of fiction The Silence of the Lambs. Cload is more than a little like Hannibal Lecter, as he befriends a deputy sheriff who keeps him company from outside his jail cell through long, sleepless nights and escorts him to and from the county courthouse where he is under trial.
The deputy, Valentine Millimaki, has been encouraged by the sheriff to learn what he can about Cload that might help in the trial. But besides a single killing, for which there was a witness, the deputy remains unaware that Cload has bodies buried all over the rough Montana country along the northern shores of the upper Missouri River.
Not more than marginally interested in Cload anyway, Millimaki has troubles of his own. Cload correctly senses that they are woman troubles. As a schoolboy, Millimaki once discovered the body of his mother, who had hanged herself in a barn on the family farm. Now, his young wife has left him, weary and depressed by life in a backwater Montana town.
|Missouri River, below Great Falls, Montana|
His characters are strongly drawn and come alive in realistic dialogue. Most absorbing for the reader is the strange and fragile bond that develops between the two men. One has the calm clarity of a man who knows he is about to be convicted of murder. The other surrenders to a pervasive gloom as he is overtaken by loneliness, and his life slowly derails. Each needs the other, but for very different reasons, which do not become evident until the final chapters.
Image credits: Ron Scheer
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