Monday, March 18, 2013

Black Mountain by Les Standiford

I got this book for my Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge.  Key Word: Mountain
I liked this book.  The descriptions of the mountains were magnificent.  It made me want to see it.  I don't think the ending was poorly contrived as the review below states.

From amazon: Standiford's new hero is Richard Corrigan, a NYC transit cop who takes down a homeless man apparently threatening New York governor Fielding Dawson. In reward, Dawson invites Corrigan to join him and 15 others, including a film crew and pretty USA Magazine reporter Dara Wylie, on a highly publicized foray into the Absaroka. In Wyoming, meanwhile, a pair of hired killers, one man, one woman, are--for reasons revealed only at novel's end--plotting to wipe out the Dawson expedition. They begin by blowing up the plane that deposits the party deep in the mountains. As expedition members struggle by foot back to civilization, they die a few at a time--two are caught in an avalanche, several tumble into a gorge when a bridge collapses. Each mishap seems accidental, but soon Corrigan and the other survivors suspect they're being stalked. More are murdered during a blizzard, leading to a final confrontation between the killers and Corrigan, and to a poorly contrived twist ending. Standiford makes terrific use of his spectacular setting, and his characters carry some depth despite their familiarity, but the plotline is so linear--now one death, now another--that it approaches tedium, despite tense sequences. This is a respectable thriller, but for Standiford fans it's only a so-so deal. (Feb.)


Excerpt:

ABSAROKA NATIONAL FOREST, WYOMING

Bright had been trailing the black Suburban for nearly thirty miles, ever since it had left the gun shop in Sheridan, something called Mighty Malcolm's Arsenal and Ordnance. August was nearly gone, now, but there'd been a boldly lettered sign still hanging in one of the shop's barred windows, red, white, and blue: HAVE A BLAST ON THE 4TH OF JULY—ALL HANDGUNS DISCOUNTED.
    Patriotism, Bright thought. Always a useful concept.
    Take those proclamations pasted to the bumper of the big vehicle up ahead. TAKE MY GUN, KISS MY BUTT. THE NRA'S FOR CANDYASSES. And another sticker featuring a rendering of a fist with the middle finger extended, which Bright wasn't close enough to read.
    An actual hand appeared briefly at one of the passenger windows of the Suburban, and a can sailed back in the slipstream, jouncing onto the pavement. Bright felt it pop under his own wheels. He'd seen perhaps a dozen other cans sail by in the last hour.
    They'd turned off 1-90 onto the state highway several miles back, had passed through two wide spots in the road known as Ranchester and Dayton, then turned northward again just shy of a flyspeck called Burgess Junction. They were deep in the heart of the Bighorn wilderness, now, on a winding, ever-climbing, two-lane blacktop that would give out to gravel before long, somewhere above 9,000 feet, somewhere in a vast spread of peaks and pine near the Montana line, population per square mile steady at zero. Bright,having spent far too much of his adult life in human ant piles, the past several months in Hong Kong, the most recent in New York, found the prospect pleasing.
    There had been an exotic game ranch up there once, a fact he had learned in the course of his considerable research. The Roosevelt Preserve, named with unabashed irony, it had sprawled across the shoulders of Black Mountain, the most formidable of those angry-looking peaks and one that had been sacred to the Lakota tribe, the original settlers of the area.
    The Lakota once had hunted the area, too, but they had taken only what they needed for survival and had offered up apologies to their gods each time an animal had fallen. Things had changed, of course. The Lakota long since slaughtered, the few survivors displaced. For a time, their sacred mountain had become a place where world-class high rollers had come to stalk ibex, gazelle, bison, bighorn sheep.
    Were one to pay enough, Bright mused, one might have shot oneself a rhino up there, chased after a snow leopard with an automatic weapon, tracked down some bewildered elephant too old for the circus or stolen from some zoo, finished it off with a bazooka or a Sidewinder missile, whatever turned the hunter in oneself on.  Read more here.
Pages: 320

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