CRY OF THE HAWK by Terry C. Johnston


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 Western potboiler that will stain the reader with grease, blood, and smoke. Jonah Hook, Confederate soldier, gains an early release from a befouled Union prison by signing up for a year as a ``galvanized Yankee'' to fight Indians on the frontier. Meanwhile, his wife and three children, waiting for him at home in backwoods Missouri, are abducted by the ``Avenging Angels'' of Brigham Young, out sweeping the land to rid it of threatening ``Gentiles'' but showing much more aptitude for raping, killing, and looting. The angels sell Hook's boys to Comancheros and save Hattie, the daughter, for future deflowering by a wealthy Mormon buyer. The crazed leader of the pack, Jubilee Usher, takes Gritta, the wife, as a concubine. While she and Hattie, both kept on a steady dose of laudanum, tour the countryside with the depraved Mormons, the depraved white men fight the depraved Indians, allowing Jonah to meet famous scouts and soldiers like Jim Bridger and George Custer. The Indians and soldiers skirmish, graphically slashing and scalping and creatively mutilating each other. Jonah finally gets his release, only to return home and find a vacant ruined homestead. He and cousin Artus set off to search for the family. Along the way, Jonah kills buffalo for the railroad, fights Indians again, and falls for Grass Singing, an Indian prostitute. He finally locates the Mormon angels and...some issues won't be resolved until the sequel. In his fast-paced but uneven latest, Johnston (Carry the Wind, 1982, etc.) magnifies the violence and stench of the Old West.

Pub Date: Aug. 17th, 1992
ISBN: 0-553-08936-6
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1992


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