Mystery in Montana

  • Red Rover

    VIKING
 

Red Rover, Deirdre McNamer's fourth novel, begins with a gunshot. Maybe it's an accident, or maybe it's a suicide. Then again, perhaps it's something more. The setting is Missoula, Mont., 1946, and the deceased is Aiden Tierney, a former FBI agent who'd been fighting a disease caught while chasing Nazis in Argentina. "Someone said the sheriff said Aiden was examining the gun and must have dropped it, and the thing went off," says Aiden's father. Pop doesn't buy the accident theory. "That boy's been firing shotguns since he was nine years old. You think he's going to handle one so stupidly that it slams him dead?" 

When last we heard from Deirdre McNamer, one of the West's finest contemporary novelists, she'd written My Russian, a boisterous, larger-than-life novel packed with evangelists, trailer trash, murderers and mobsters. In Red Rover, McNamer returns to her quieter fictional roots - the small Montana towns and stoic characters that moved through her earlier novels, Rima in the Weeds and One Sweet Quarrel. After opening with the crime, McNamer toggles between 1946 and 2003, when the characters who know too much about Tierney's death are living out their final years working jigsaw puzzles at the old folks' home. 

The mystery revolves around Tierney and Roland Taliaferro, Tierney's friend and fellow G-man, the last person to see Tierney alive. The author saves some of her best writing for the small towns and secondary characters, though - the loony town coroner, the ambitious young reporter, the gas station owner hollowed out by the loss of a son in Vietnam. This is where McNamer's genius for capturing the unromantic realism of Montana really shines. The tiny town of Neva "had become so elderly and gray," she writes, "that youth and noise jumped from its surface like colored fish." 

McNamer isn't averse to touching on big global themes - J. Edgar Hoover and corporate profiteers come in for some pounding - but the book's true kin are quiet classics like Kent Haruf's Plainsong and Leif Enger's Peace Like a River. This is territory where folks like to just let things be. They don't appreciate a ruckus and they don't want their memories sullied, especially by questions about an upstanding citizen falling on his shotgun. 

 

The author is a contributing editor at Outside Magazine; his upcoming book is The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw.

 

 

Red Rover

 

Deirdre McNamer

264 pages, hardcover: $24.95.

Viking, 2007.
High Country News Classifieds
  • CONSERVATION PROGRAM MANAGER
    Central Colorado Conservancy, located in Salida, Colorado, is seeking a Conservation Program Manager dedicated to managing the Conservancy's land protection program which includes developing and...
  • PUBLIC LANDS PROGRAM MANAGER
    Conserve Southwest Utah is seeking a candidate with excellent communication skills and a commitment to environmental conservation for the position of Public Lands Program Manager....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Western Slope Conservation Center in Paonia, CO, seeks a dynamic leader who is mission-driven, hardworking, and a creative problem-solver. WSCC is committed to creating...
  • PLANNED GIVING OFFICER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks a Planned Giving Officer. Do you find energy in...
  • NORTHERN NEW MEXICO PROJECT MANAGER
    Seeking qualified Northern New Mexico Project Manager to provide expertise, leadership and support to the organization by planning, cultivating, implementing and managing land conservation activities,...
  • REGIONAL TRAIL STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
    Are you passionate about connecting people to the outdoors? The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is looking for someone with trail maintenance and volunteer engagement...
  • TRAIL CREW MEMBER
    Position Title: Trail Crew Member Position Type: 6 month seasonal position, April 17-October 15, 2023 Location: Field-based; The RFOV office is in Carbondale, CO, and...
  • CEO BUFFALO NATIONS GRASSLANDS ALLIANCE
    Chief Executive Officer, Remote Exempt position for Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance is responsible for the planning and organization of BNGA's day-to-day operations
  • IDAHO DIRECTOR - WESTERN WATERSHEDS PROJECT
    Western Watersheds Project seeks an Idaho Director to continue and expand upon WWP's campaign to protect and restore public lands and wildlife in Idaho, with...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT, NA'AH ILLAHEE FUND
    Na'ah Illahee Fund (NIF) is seeking a highly qualified Development Director to join our team in supporting and furthering our mission. This position will create...
  • DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, NA'AH ILLAHEE FUND
    Na'ah Illahee Fund (NIF) is seeking a highly qualified Operations Director to join our team. This position will provide critical organizational and systems support to...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) is seeking a leader to join our dynamic team in the long-term protection of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). We...
  • GRASSLAND RESEARCH COORDINATOR
    The Grassland Research Coordinator is a cooperative position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that performs and participates in and coordinates data collection for...
  • "PROFILES IN COURAGE: STANDING AGAINST THE WYOMING WIND"
    13 stories of extraordinary courage including HCN founder Tom Bell, PRBRC director Lynn Dickey, Liz Cheney, People of Heart Mountain, the Wind River Indian Reservation...
  • GRANT WRITER
    JOB DESCRIPTION: This Work involves the responsibility of conducting research in the procurement of Federal, State, County, and private grant funding. Additional responsibilities include identifying...
  • ASPIRE COLORADO SUSTAINABLE BODY AND HOME CARE PRODUCTS
    Go Bulk! Go Natural! Our products are better for you and better for the environment. Say no to single-use plastic. Made in U.S.A., by a...
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field seminars for adults in the natural and human history of the Colorado Plateau, with lodge and base camp options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    A must for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Cools, cleans and hydrates with mist, stream and shower patterns. Hundreds of uses.
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.