A Montana journalist’s trip to visit her bridegroom’s Arizona relatives becomes a horror story.
Now that Lola Wicks, back from Afghanistan, has married Sheriff Charlie Laurendeau, the part-Blackfoot father of her 7-year-old daughter, Margaret, and settled in as a reporter on the Magpie paper, Charlie proposes a late honeymoon trip to visit his brother, Edgar, who long ago left their reservation to marry a Navajo woman. Although reluctant to go, Lola packs up the family, including three-legged border collie Bub, and they head for Arizona. Edgar and his wife, Naomi, are Dartmouth-educated lawyers; she works for the tribe and he for the coal company that’s straining the reservation’s resources. Also resident in their updated hogan, complete with all mod cons, are their 9-year-old daughter, Juliana, and Thomas Benally, a distant relative staying with them while studying pre-law. A bomb has just killed an unlucky tribal elder sitting next to a coal company sign that was the bomber’s likely target. The tribe is divided about the coal company, which provides many well-paying jobs but demands so much water that it’s draining the streams the people need for their sheep and crops. While visiting a cliff house, a climb the height-averse Lola makes with trepidation, they witness the bombing of a coal truck that kills the driver. Over Charlie’s objections, Lola’s reporter instincts kick in. Their relationship, already strained by the anti-white remarks of Edgar and Naomi, is further tested when Charlie volunteers to act as a bodyguard for Naomi, who’s received a threatening letter. Lola herself is threatened, but it’s not until Bub is dognapped that Lola, who’ll do anything to protect her family, vows to figure out who’s behind the bombings.
Florio (Disgraced, 2016, etc.) captures the culture and poverty on reservations still suffering from greed and mismanagement in a ripped-from-the-headlines story with a shocking ending.