A favor for a friend leads a reporter to a stunning story and life-altering decisions.
Lola Wicks has buried some shattering experiences in Afghanistan deep within her psyche as she rebuilds her life as a reporter in Magpie, a small Montana town. During her furlough, she’s taken her 5-year-old daughter, Maggie, and their border collie, Bub, on a Wyoming vacation while she ponders whether to marry Maggie’s father, part–American Indian Sheriff Charles Laurendeau. Lola’s Magpie reporter friend, Jan, has asked her to pick up her cousin Palomino Jones, who’s just returning from Afghanistan, at the Casper airport. When a shot is fired, Lola hits the floor with Maggie. When the dust clears, she can’t help smelling a story in the airport suicide. Why did Cody Dillon, a returning soldier from the same group as Pal, kill himself in such a public place? Returning Pal to her home, she finds Jan’s cousin, who sports hacked-off hair and filthy clothes, uncommunicative and hostile and probably suffering from PTSD. Lola meets Pal’s Shoshone neighbor, Delbert St. Clair, whose grandson Mike, Pal’s childhood friend, was one of a local group including Cody who all enlisted and went to Afghanistan together. When two other members of the group nearly kill a man in a bar fight, Lola decides to interview the returning heroes and research their backgrounds. The story goes that Mike fell asleep on watch when their vehicle broke down and was killed by an insurgent whom the rest of the group shot to death. There are many versions of that story; are any of them near the truth? The locals, prejudiced against Native Americans, are all too ready to pronounce Mike guilty of dereliction and Lola of sluttish behavior. Ignoring Charlie’s ever more urgent calls to come home, the reckless heroine resolves to find the truth even if she puts herself and her child in mortal danger.
Lola’s third (Dakota, 2014, etc.) is a gut-wrenching mystery/thriller that explores prejudice and the incredible stress on soldiers in a seemingly unending war with no clear goals.