Books by Max Evans

Released: Jan. 1, 1999

When an ex-slave goes to fight the Apaches on behalf of the white man, the ironies alone are bound to make up half the story, but an old Western hand like Evans (This Chosen Place, 1997, etc.) can keep them in their proper place. His account of Moses Williams, a decorated veteran of the Civil War, and his adventures out West are based on actual events and narrated as history. Williams was a sergeant of the Ninth Cavalry, sent in 1879 to —pacify— the Apache territory of New Mexico. Married to a mulatto and in command of white troops, Williams was a man between two worlds even before his excursion into the Black Range, and his encounters with the Apache alienate still more. His real quest is Nana, the Chief whose lightning raids on frontier settlements have practically halted the pioneers— expansion into New Mexico and Arizona. Vicious, brilliant, and seemingly unstoppable, Nana and his warriors have overcome or eluded every force sent after them to date, and now Williams must find a way to defeat the Apache on his own territory—and make it home alive. As always with Evans, written with a good sense of the times and place. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1997

A portrait of a Colorado valley and, more to the point, of its wealthy owners. Novelist Evans (Bluefeather Fellini in the Sacred Realm, 1994) joins a tradition of western writers—John Culley, Robert Glass Cleland, Joseph Wood Krutch, Tom Lea, even Wallace Stegner—who have penned rah-rah biographies of prominent regional business people. In this case, the entrepreneur in question is Charles Leavell, a Texan who made his fortune selling to the federal government various implements of the Cold War, including nuclear reactors scattered across the countryside, from Connecticut to California. With the proceeds, he bought a big chunk of southwestern Colorado, an area of ``lush, fertile soil surrounded on three sides by massive mountains'' that had once been home to innumerable Ute Indians and smallholder farmers. No more, of course, but no matter; in Evans's eyes, ``the 4UR [ranch] aura moves on in the best of caring hands,'' outsiders' hands though they may be (and by many Coloradans' lights, Texans are the ultimate outsiders). Evans's tone is celebratory throughout, in the manner of a college yearbook: ``Charles has made an art form of fun, absorbing great joy from art and business, trout fishing and grand outdoor and indoor feasts, or just having a quiet visit with a close friend.'' His narrative, too, often bogs down in insignificant episodes that doubtless mean much to the Leavell family but fail to inspire the reader—for instance, a glancing account of a visit by the famed cook and author Julia Child, who gorged herself on fried chicken and hamburgers while taking in local fly-fishing spots. It would have been more significant to point out that, like so many other once-working ranches in the Southwest, the 4UR is now a tourist destination, appealing to deep-pocketed visitors from afar. Little bits and pieces of southwestern history, regional and local, keep this account from degenerating into a mere family scrapbook—but only by a hair. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

The further misadventures of Bluefeather Fellini offer good silly fun from noted western author Evans (The Rounders, not reviewed, etc.). Bluefeather, half Sicilian and half Taos Pueblo Indian, has just returned from WW II. His substantial earnings from his rich gold mine are gone, having been squandered in an enterprise to develop the medicinal potential of sage oil. He's flat busted. His car is gone. The phone and the electricity are turned off, and he's just gotten a notice of foreclosure on his house from the bank. He's also still haunted by the death of his wife, Miss Mary, whom he had accidentally killed in a mining mishap. At this definite low point in his life, his guiding spirit, Dancing Bear, a Cheshire catlike ghost of a scruffy Indian, reappears to help out. Bluefeather, who could have used his aid much earlier, wonders where he's been, but the apparition gleefully explains that the Authority has had him on a dozen other cases. Still, after the spirit's return, matters do seem to take a turn for the better. A message arrives from Ricardo Korbell, a mysterious and powerful millionaire with whose adopted daughter, Marsha, Bluefeather had a brief assignation earlier. Ricardo wants to see him, and Marsha is sent to fetch him. The millionaire needs Bluefeather's help in finding 60 cases of Mouton Rothschild 1880, and he is willing to pay handsomely. Soon, Bluefeather and Marsha are off on a merry chase for the rare wine, encountering colorful characters and getting up close and personal with each other. Dancing Bear and mystical mischief are never far away. An erotic and entertaining romp through the various cultures that make up the American Southwest. Despite a few minor missteps, this pseudo-noir send-up will hold the reader's attention until the raucous conclusion. Read full book review >