BONE MUSIC by Lee Moler


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From the author of Baltimore Blues (1991), an old-but-new western with rawhide dialogue and a far-out plot laced with 100-proof bourbon. Why anyone who writes like Moler (—Montana was older than history, bigger than life, and empty as death, six hundred miles of tableland running out of the east on a wave of grass—) would write this familiar tale of old cowhand being eaten alive by modern life may be a good question. Vietnam vet John David Jefferson, who carries a cell phone out on the range, isn—t really so old when his wife Celine, 44, mother of his two children, leaves him. Just as bad, his 150 pedigreed Angus, frisky with life the night before, lie dead as if hit by a bomb. The medical examiner hasn’t a clue, but Jefferson thinks it’s a result of poisoned water from the new Unitel computer-chip plant. He finds that the plant is leased from his old buddy-turned-enemy Harlow Rourke, a far bigger rancher than Jefferson, but barging in on Rourke results in only deeper enmity. Nasty Harlow, who snuffs little Asian girls for sex, confronts Unitel’s Asian boss C.K. Lone, and we learn that the plant is actually making an aerosol rabies virus for Asia’s Triad, which is expanding worldwide, absorbing both East and West Coast Mafias. Unitel means to sell the virus to Iraq, Iran, Israel, and the US, netting a hundred million or more. Meanwhile, C.K. Lone is set on overthrowing the Triad’s leader, Hahn, and raising himself to top spot—until the original discoverer of the virus, James Vandivier, spills the entire tale to Jefferson. The dead cattle? Unitel’s first test of the virus. Now Jefferson is really set on revenge and, with Vandivier and Rourke murdered, decides to take on the bad guys himself—and face a genetic horror that’s been building since prehistory. Fine prose helps bolster an odd if exciting western that mixes cowboys, Native Americans, Asians, and molecular biology. An above-average millennial oater.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-84355-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1999