Book Review: Bitter Creek by Peter Bowen

Bitter CreekBitter Creek
A Gabriel DuPre Montana Mystery #14
Peter Bowen
Open Road Media, April 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4976-7658-9
Trade Paperback

Stock inspector, fiddle player extraordinaire, father, grandfather, stepfather⏤Gabriel Dupre is a man of many parts. Most of all, he’s a man of unlimited curiosity and observation who isn’t about to let a mystery go unsolved. Not even if it’s a hundred years old, and especially not when it concerns his people, the Métis.

Chappie Plaquemines, DuPre’s girlfriend’s son, has come home from Iraq maimed in mind and body. So has Chappie’s commanding officer, Lieutenant John Patchen, who’s come to Montana to persuade Chappie to accept the Navy Cross. While both young men are having a sweat bath in the mystic Benetsee’s steam tent, voices come to them that even DuPre, waiting outside, can hear. The voices of a group of massacred Métis from one hundred years in the past speak to them of Bitter Creek. They beg to have their story heard. But before DuPre can point a finger at the culprits, he’ll have to find where the bodies are buried. Only intense investigation will reveal the dead’s story, but not without a few new victims.

When you pick up a Gabriel DuPre book, you’re going to think it needed an editor⏤at first. Commas are in the wrong place, you think. And then, after a couple pages, it all makes perfect sense. As you read the words, you begin to hear the cadence of the characters’ voices. I love it. It’s some of the most compelling dialogue I’ve ever encountered.

Beyond that, DuPre is a character who comes to life under author Peter Bowen’s sure hand. From his old Police cruiser that he routinely drives over the speed limit, to his roll-his-own smokes, to his fiddle and his music.

He’s not the only fine character. Bart, Booger Tom, Madeleine, the many grandchildren. Even Eustace, the musk-ox, and Father Van Den Heuvel, the clumsy priest come to life in the book. And never forget Benetsee, who seems able to change shape.

The dialogue is crisp and often funny, especially when it concerns Booger Tom or the grandchildren.

I, for one, hope there’ll be many more DuPre mysteries.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, April 2016.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder and Four Furlongs.