Their first appearance in Lone Creek helped garner McMahon the most extraordinary reviews of his career. None other than mystery guru Otto Penzler said: "It is the poignant and knowing prose that elevates this novel to literature. What separates this book from other outstanding crime novels is the moral might of the hero--and he is a hero, just as Philip Marlowe, Lew Archer, Spenser, Harry Bosch, and C. W. Sugrue are. Davoren believes in friendship, his word, honor, and the earth--the bleak but beautiful mountainous west."
Dead Silver begins with a distraught call to Hugh Davoren from the daughter of a famous professor when she finds a wooden box containing disturbing photos and an earring that belonged to her stepmother, murdered after protesting the opening of a silver mine.
With his trademark descriptions of the well-to-do and the down-and-out, McMahon brings in a cast of colorful characters who support and oppose Hugh and his friend Madbird--plenty of people who may have had a hand in the murder cases that these photos have reopened. And Hugh's judgment could be clouded by his feelings for the professor's vulnerable but feisty daughter, who is trying to draw the killer out on her own.
Like Lone Creek, McMahon's first novel to boast a Montana setting, this fine crime novel fairly glows with the big skies, rough country and outsize characters of his home state. Ex-journalist Hugh Davoren, working in Helena as a carpenter with his buddy Madbird, a Blackfoot Indian, is contacted by an old friend, Renee Callister, back in town to bury her father, John Callister, after a 20-year absence. John had lived the latter part of his life in disgrace as the chief suspect in the murder of his second wife, Astrid, and her lover. Renee finds old photographs of a nude Astrid and decides they are clues that will exonerate her late father. She asks Hugh to help her, and, smitten by her beauty and plight, he readily agrees. McMahon ties up several subplots--in particular, Madbird's troubles with his niece, Darcy, who's having an affair with a state representative--in a rather unwieldy knot by the end, but it's the compelling prose, sense of place and sympathetic characters that make the book a joy to read. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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June 02, 2008
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