Times change, eras end, and memories bleed into the present in Moore’s (The Breaking of Ezra Riley, 2012, etc.) slice-of-life novel set in the contemporary West—the fourth entry in his Ezra Riley series.
Ezra is a rancher, cowboy and author, but he isn’t all of those things equally. Two horse-riding accidents have left him with nerve damage that threatens his ability to ride and work on his southeastern Montana ranch, and more than a decade of writer’s block has dried up his once-promising literary career. Despite these personal setbacks, however, he’s maintained strong personal relationships with his wife, Anne; his best friend, Barney, a cartoonist and genial layabout; and scattered family and friends, including Peter, a reporter. Still, nothing gold can stay, and a destructive storm and a looming governmental reclassification of the badlands put Ezra in a difficult spot. A billionaire with an eye on Ezra’s ranch, a pair of criminal lowlifes and a radical environmentalist further complicate Ezra’s simple life. Moore’s prose is rich with geographic and character detail, and he has a strong ear for dialogue. All the characters, even the criminal Pratt cousins, come alive on the page, and although some plot threads trail off, the characters never do. This latest entry in Moore’s series seems intended to be accessible as a stand-alone work, but there’s some history that first-time readers won’t pick up. Some plot threads—such as the nature of Peter’s time in Israel—are clearly meant to carry on into a later installment. As a result, the plot is stuffed with events and details that sometimes overwhelm the overall narrative. That said, readers will find it a pleasure to spend time with Ezra and his friends thanks to Moore’s assured voice.
Moore’s deep familiarity with his characters makes this latest novel a pleasure to read.