When a hunted military whistleblower and his family need someplace to hide and someone to trust, Toussaint, Montana, is the place, and Gabriel Du Pré the man. The Métis Indian former cattle inspector and sometimes deputy is happy to offer protection, even though he’s already got his hands full with an ailing granddaughter, a meddling medicine man, and a Kazakh eagle hunter prowling the hills above town.
As a guard at a Kabul prison, Hoyt Poe witnessed his fellow soldiers abusing the Afghan inmates. Poe’s testimony threatens to expose the military contractor that led the prison’s brutal interrogation program. Now, Temple Security’s billionaire founder, Lloyd Cutler, wants him dead. But how long can the fugitive and his family lay low before Cutler’s mercenaries come to Du Pré’s hometown looking for trouble?
Packed with pulse-pounding suspense, wry humor, and the romance of small-town Montana, Solus continues the irresistible adventures of the one of a kind Gabriel Du Pré, “a character of legendary proportions” (New York Times–bestselling author Ridley Pearson).
Solus is the 15th book in the Montana Mysteries Featuring Gabriel Du Pré, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
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About the Author
Following time at the University of Michigan and the University of Montana, he published his first novel, Yellowstone Kelly, in 1987. After two more novels featuring the real-life western hero, Bowen published Coyote Wind (1994), which introduced Gabriel Du Pré, a mixed-race lawman living in fictional Toussaint, Montana. He has written fifteen novels in the series, in which Du Pré gets tangled up in everything from cold-blooded murder to the hunt for rare fossils. Bowen continues to live and write in Livingston, Montana.
Peter Bowen (b. 1945) is an author best known for mystery novels set in the modern American West. When he was ten, Bowen’s family moved to Bozeman, Montana, where a paper route introduced him to the grizzled old cowboys who frequented a bar called The Oaks. Listening to their stories, some of which stretched back to the 1870s, Bowen found inspiration for his later fiction. Following time at the University of Michigan and the University of Montana, Bowen published his first novel, Yellowstone Kelly, in 1987. After two more novels featuring the real-life Western hero, Bowen published Coyote Wind (1994), which introduced Gabriel Du Pré, a mixed-race lawman living in fictional Toussaint, Montana. Bowen has written fourteen novels in the series, in which Du Pré gets tangled up in everything from cold-blooded murder to the hunt for rare fossils. Bowen continues to live and write in Livingston, Montana.
Read an Excerpt
Du Pré looked at the young doctor who was looking at a file on his computer screen. It was Du Pré's file.
... I like paper. Ink ... thought Du Pré. Computers. Shit.
"It looks very good, Mister Du Pré," said the young doctor.
... Looks like he is about fifteen ... thought Du Pré.
"It was malignant but it is a slow-growing carcinoma, fairly common and easily removed. There were no cells in the margins that were occult," said the young doctor.
... That does it ... thought Du Pré ... They sacrifice chickens here, read the guts. Occult ...
Du Pré stood up. "Thank you," he said.
"You're very welcome," said the young doctor. The name on his plastic tag was GHOSH.
Du Pré left the office, walked down the hall, his boots screeking on the polished green linoleum tiles.
Madelaine was sitting in Du Pré's old Crown Victoria, beading a small medicine pouch.
"I don't go in those places, Du Pré," she had said. "I find myself in one of those places, I was carried there, unconscious."
Du Pré got in.
"You are dying?" said Madelaine. The tip of her tongue was stuck in the left corner of her mouth.
She was looking at the bead she was setting.
"I got a week maybe," said Du Pré. "They did everything that they could."
"Start the fucking car," said Madelaine. "Anybody stays in Billings ten minutes longer than they have to will not last very long."
As soon as they left the fug of refinery stink Billings sank behind the hills. Du Pré reached under the seat, took out a bottle of whiskey, had a good pull, rolled a smoke, lit it, handed it to Madelaine for the one puff she took from time to time.
"I am glad you are all right," said Madelaine. "You would be very hard to replace. Not impossible, no, but probably pretty hard, so I am very glad you have not got some terrible disease."
"Thank you," said Du Pré. "It is the people who love you who pull you through these terrible times. Their prayers and shit."
"Fuck!" said Madelaine, looking at a bright bead of blood on her fingertip. "I know better than this beading while you are driving."
"Non," said Du Pré, "you don't. Obviously, you don't know better. Do not get blood, my car seats ..."
Du Pré's cruiser was over twenty years old, had four doors from four different cars, all blue and none matching, and the seat upholstery looked like it had been attacked by starving badgers certain there was a nice fat gopher in it somewhere.
"Yah," said Madelaine, mopping the blood from her fingertip off on a scrap of upholstery. "Now I will get gangrene. Bart has all those nice new cars, more'n he needs, he would give you one."
"I don't want, new car," said Du Pré.
"What's that smell," said Madelaine, "rubber or burning goatshit, something, are we on fire?"
"It was just a carcinoma," said Du Pré, "not much."
"You always get that look, you find a doctor who is too young," she said. "You want them old, like Benetsee, have a white lab coat, be about one hundred twenty, you are getting old, Du Pré."
"He looks about fifteen," said Du Pré.
"Oh, Du Pré is so much better," said Madelaine. "Last time he is saying, bitching, that doctor is twelve, I should demand ID, that is Du Pré."
"This one was maybe fifteen," said Du Pré.
"And you go to court, pay the speeding ticket a month ago?" said Madelaine.
Du Pré laughed.
"You come back, say you go early, see what the offer is, there is this pretty blond child should be out selling Girl Scout cookies but she is an assistant district attorney ..." said Madelaine. "Old goat, you should go up in the mountains, live in a cave."
"Non," said Du Pré, "they are damp." He had another pull at the whiskey. An ambulance went past in the other lanes, heading toward Billings. A few miles farther on, there was a clutch of emergency vehicles and a fire truck, and two Highway Patrol cars, lights flashing.
A big sedan was upside down on top of a fence; a pickup truck was a blackened hulk, smoking a little.
Madelaine crossed herself and her lips moved. Du Pré rolled another smoke. They got to the road north and they turned off. Now it was two lanes all the way home.
The sun was still high, there would be daylight.
A low mountain range came into view to the west, a smoky lavender and dark gray on the horizon. Du Pré got up to speed.
One-ten, a Montanan's answer to a hell of a lot of not much. Du Pré slowed when he came to the tops of hills. You never knew when a rancher with a tractor and a big load of hay would be moving at twenty miles an hour just out of sight.
Or some dumb cow would have gotten through a fence and be standing ready to crush the radiator and, at the speeds Du Pré drove, intimately commingle all its flesh with the car.
Du Pré looked out the window, saw a big yellow-gray coyote trot to a hilltop, pause, look back. The coyote would drop out of sight if the car slowed down.
Du Pré slowed more as the crest came up to flat and the coyote vanished.
"Pallas is bad," said Madelaine. "Where is that old bastard Benetsee? We need him now. He pisses me off, he always shows up when we need him but he has not done that. He is dead maybe."
"Non," said Du Pré, "he will be back."
"Before she kills herself maybe," said Madelaine.
Du Pré patted Madelaine on the leg.
"She is strong," said Du Pré. "She rides and rides until she can sleep."
"So smart," said Madelaine, "and now this."
Du Pré nodded.
Pallas had come back from school, her eyes deep in her head, her skin pale, listless, hardly able to eat. She was proud and would not complain, but she was in great pain.
"Bart wants her to go to a hospital," said Du Pré.
"They are not worth a shit," said Madelaine. "Benetsee is though."
Du Pré sighed, nodded, had some more whiskey.
Madelaine fished a bottle of the pink fizzy wine she liked from the soft cooler in the backseat, and she poured a travel mug full. The sweet smell filled the car.
Du Pré had a good fifteen miles of clear road ahead. He got up to speed.
They shot past a parked Highway Patrol car that was hidden in a cleft in the land, behind some flat rocks.
Du Pré honked.
The patrol car flashed its lights.
"That is McPhie," said Du Pré.
"I know it is McPhie," said Madelaine. "They send other cops to do McPhie's job and they stop all the people driving fast and they piss off people so then somebody gets the drop on them, locks them in their trunk, and calls the Highway Patrol, says get this asshole out of here before we shoot him, and then we have McPhie back."
Du Pré laughed.
"Nobody is going to shoot a cop," said Du Pré.
"Maybe," said Madelaine. "But it helps when they think somebody might."
Du Pré grinned. McPhie was a huge man, had played pro football for a while, until injuries slowed him down. He was from here, the plains, and he knew the people. Proud, not fond of guvverment, and extremely pugnacious. Very good soldiers came from here.
"We got to do something for Pallas," said Madelaine.
"Yes," said Du Pré.
"You hear me, Du Pré?" said Madelaine.
"Yes," said Du Pré.
"OK," said Madelaine.CHAPTER 2
Du Pré sat on his buckskin mountain horse, Walkin' John, looking out over the plains below. He was on a pocket meadow in the flank of the mountain the trail ran up.
He had followed Pallas's mount's tracks, which had gone back down another trail.
Then he saw her ride out of the trees below and the horse began to canter and then to gallop.
Du Pré shook his head.
He turned Walkin' John and they headed down the trail that Pallas had taken fifteen or so minutes before.
"I won't make you run that hard," said Du Pré to Walkin' John.
Walkin' John said whuffie.
By the time Du Pré came out of the trees below Pallas had vanished. He rode to a ridge that reached out from the mountain, got down, dropped the reins on the ground, and walked to a spur of rock with a hundred-foot drop below it.
Pallas was a couple of miles away, cantering up a switchback trail. She would get to the top and probably go east, Du Pré thought.
He rode Walkin' John down a ridge trail that dropped to a hill, went along the crest, and then he crossed the arroyo on a bench of yellow-gray rock that would be a waterfall if there was more water.
He wound down to a small creek, along its banks, up a hill.
Pallas came out of a stand of aspens.
She saw Du Pré, rode up to him.
Her face was flushed from the wind and sun.
"Hello, Granpère," she said.
"How is the horse?" said Du Pré.
"Stewball is a good horse," she said, "too old to race him now. You remember that?"
Du Pré nodded.
Right-wing nuts, bush races, a lot of money, a lot of death.
But Pallas and Lourdes had each gotten a very good horse out of it.
"You are riding after me," said Pallas. "Madelaine is worried. I am getting through the day and then I have the night, Granpère."
Du Pré nodded.
"I am doing what I can," said Pallas. "Bart is ver' sweet, he wants to send me to a hospital. I tell him will they give me a new heart? I think my heart is dead, Granpère ..."
"Bart tries to help," said Du Pré.
A squirrel chirred, scolding an intruder off in the lodgepole forest that covered the flanks of the mountain. Then another.
Du Pré and Pallas turned.
"Bear, maybe?" said Pallas.
Du Pré shrugged.
"Maybe," he said.
Then one of the golden eagles that lived on the sheer cliff to the west flew down. The huge bird circled once and then rose up, wings pumping slowly.
Benetsee trotted out of the timber.
He was black with dirt, his running shoes were torn, he wore a headband that might have once been red.
The old man looked at Du Pré and Pallas, waved once, and he then vanished into a little watercourse that ran away from them.
"I am going to shoot him," said Du Pré.
"You been going, shoot him, since I am old enough to hear," said Pallas. "But so far? You don't shoot him."
"I miss a few times," said Du Pré.
A coyote trotted out of the ground, it was there one moment where there had been nothing before.
The coyote disappeared into yellow grass.
Then Benetsee came trotting up the trail.
Du Pré looked at the big rock the old man had been behind.
Benetsee stopped, grinned.
"Old man," said Du Pré, "Madelaine see you, you get boiled."
"She is a kind woman," said Benetsee, "ver' kind."
Du Pré fished a flask out of the saddlebag, he took off the top, handed it to the old man.
Benetsee emptied it.
... Water, wine, whiskey, beer, old bastard drinks them all same way, right on down, like that ... Du Pré thought.
"Ah," said Benetsee, "now I am numb, maybe go see Madelaine, take a bath."
He slid up behind Du Pré.
"You got bugs?" said Du Pré.
"Big ones," said Benetsee, "tired of old me, they are piling on you now. Lots of them too. They will have a good time ..."
They rode down the hill.
"I think I ride some more," said Pallas.
"Non," said Benetsee sharply, "horse, you come on." He said something in an old language. Stewball pricked up his ears and followed, ignoring Pallas and her jerks on the reins.
"I don't want to trouble anyone," said Pallas.
"And you stay on the damn horse," said Benetsee.
Pallas stuck her right boot back in the stirrup.
She slumped in the saddle.
"I'm sorry," she said.
Benetsee turned to look back at her.
"You got nothing to be sorry for," he said, "you need good tea, a sweat, water from Skull Springs."
"It tastes terrible," said Pallas.
"You do as I say," he said. "I got lots, worry about, don't got to worry about you too. I help you, Madelaine don't kick my ass ..."
Pallas laughed, though tears were streaming down her cheeks.
"It is not just your life, here," said Benetsee, "mine too."
"Madelaine is not going to kill you," said Pallas.
"No," said Benetsee, "but she make me suffer so much I do it."
Du Pré laughed.
They came into the huge pasture above Bart's house. Du Pré had opened the gate, and Pallas rode Stewball through it.
"Where is Moondog?" said Du Pré.
"Split hoof," said Pallas. "Lourdes, she take him to Sam, get the hoof taken care of."
"You give him cottonseed cake?" said Benetsee.
"No, we give him that stuff Bart buys," said Pallas, "supposed to be good for hooves, hair, teeth."
"Bart don't know horses," said Benetsee.
"Booger Tom does," said Pallas.
"Yah," said Benetsee.
"Booger Tom has been hollering for cottonseed cake," said Pallas.
"Bart don't think nothing is good unless it is expensive," said Benetsee.
They passed Bart's house, went to the county road, then through another gate into another huge pasture.
The little town of Toussaint was nine miles away.
They cantered most of the distance, rode to the small pasture that sat behind Madelaine's house.
Du Pré looked at the sky, clear, no rain coming.
"I should take Stewball to the barn," said Pallas.
She tried to turn the big horse but he wouldn't budge.
A huge dog came out of the willows. The animal just appeared. It was white with caramel-brown patches on its body and one caramel ear. Its tail had been docked.
The huge dog trotted up to Pallas, who was stripping the saddle and blanket and reins and bit from Stewball. She looked down at the dog.
"Hello," said Pallas to the dog.
The huge dog sat, its head cocked.
Pallas patted the big head.
"You know this dog?" said Du Pré.
"No," said Pallas, "he is a good big dog though. Wonder what kind of dog."
"Some kind of dog," said Du Pré.
The big dog stood up, looked at Pallas again, and then trotted to the line of willows by the little creek and was gone.CHAPTER 3
Du Pré watched the fire rise and begin to heat the stones, set on ricks of wood split small, so it would ignite quickly. The flames curled around the stones, worn round quartzite, tight in the grain and able to take heat without cracking.
He walked down to the creek behind Benetsee's cabin, looked in the long pool that had the waving water plants and the little brook trout hiding in the trailing green leaves. The bottom was gold, dappled by the sun.
Madelaine and Pallas and Benetsee sat at the plank table Du PrÃ© had made for the old man many years ago. The table was worn and gray now; the sun and the winter had stained it a soft silver.
Benetsee was wearing brand-new clothes and running shoes with fabric ties, Velcro straps that ran over the arch. The shoes were bright blue and had panels of reflective silver on the sides.
The old man had a new headband, bright red, and a vest of soft doeskin painted with a few symbols, sun and eagle, shield and lance, a stone knife and a prickly pear cactus.
He was a few shades lighter. The soot from the campfires had been scrubbed away and his lank white hair was braided and gathered with straps of otter fur.
... I ran over that damn otter ... Du PrÃ© thought ... dumb bastard was crossing the road for some reason, long damn way from where any otter should be ...
The fire under the stones crackled, and then the first of the ricks collapsed and the stone sank down on hot red coals. The others fell one by one, and the stones started to look white, and heat shimmered above them.
Pallas drank from a plastic milk jug. Her face screwed up.
"This tastes like goat piss," she said, "sorry-ass goat piss." Benetsee grinned.
"Got a whole jug to go," he said, "all that goat piss, you are ver' lucky woman."
Pallas drank more. Madelaine patted her hand.
"I am fine now," said Pallas. "I stuck my finger, the electric outlet, everything better."
"She is bitching," said Madelaine. "That is a good sign."
Pallas took another long draft of the water. "Yuck," she said.
Du Pré laughed. He took a steel-handled shovel and he pushed the blade under a stone and he carried it to the sweat lodge and he put it in the stone pit. He carried seven others there.
He filled a small bucket with creek water, and he put a battered blue enamel dipper in the bucket. Du PrÃ© waited.
He looked toward the mountains.
Pallas stripped on the big towel beside Du Pré and she crawled into the lodge. Du Pré did not look at her.
"OK," said Pallas. She dribbled water on the stones and the hot rocks turned the water to steam.
Du Pré flipped the thick blankets down over the entrance. The hissing was muffled but it was still loud. He walked back to the table.
"You two go up, front porch," said Benetsee. Madelaine got up and she and Du Pré walked up the hill to the cabin and around it. There was a small narrow front porch with one bench on it; the top lifted up so kindling could be stored in the box beneath.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Solus"
Copyright © 2018 Peter Bowen.
Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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