Tuesday, March 27, 2012

ASTRIDE A PINK HORSE - Robert Greer

First line: "If Lyle Sudderman had been paying attention to his surroundings instead of twisting his grease-stained U.S. Postal Service letter carrier's cap nervously from side to side on his head and muttering obscenities to himself, he might have realized sooner that the brown lump lying between a knot of sagebrush and a smaller boulder just inside a sagging cyclone fence fifty yards away wasn't a dead steer or a mule deer that had somehow nosed its way onto the fenced-off patch of government land."

Elgin Coseia, a.k.a. Cozy, is a journalist for his best friend's online news site. He's also the first reporter on the scene when a dead, naked man is found hanging upside down in a deactivated missile silo. Major Bernadette Cameron is the air force officer investigating the breach of security that enabled someone to not only leave a dead man on the Air Force compound but open the hatch to the missile silo as well. Starting out on opposite sides of the investigation, Cozy and Bernadette soon realize that two heads are better than one in their search for answers - especially when that search takes them through an entanglement of suspects and motives.

The cast of ASTRIDE A PINK HORSE is even more colorful than the book's title. A former peace activist with her common law, ex-motorcycle gang member husband. An elderly Japanese woman who lived in the American internment camps of World War II with her genius, math professor cousin. A cattle rancher; a former serviceman and his entrepreneurial, Notre Dame-loving son; even a wealthy, oil man's son who simply follows his whims through life. They all converge and find themselves tied together by Thurmond Giles, the murdered Air Force veteran. Robert Greer's network of connections resembles that of a spider web: loose and brilliant, yet surprisingly deadly. Half the fun of the novel is acquainting yourself with these casting gems.

The other half the fun comes in the form of following the exploits of all the characters. While the cast is full and each is off in his/her own direction, the plot is not difficult to follow. Instead, the challenge is not to get led astray, like I did. I was convinced the guilty party was a completely different character, and quite honestly, these days, it's a challenge to snooker me that much. I found myself in one of those labyrinthine dead ends and it was wonderful.

Greer's dialogue is sharp and natural, at times very witty. He brings in social issues to enhance the storyline without using them as a soapbox or beating his reader over the head with them. The subtle integration  of these issues leaves the reader contemplating them long after the last page, instead of trying to escape them.

ASTRIDE A PINK HORSE made me chuckle when I first read the title. But having experienced this PINK HORSE I know undoubtedly this title will stay with me forever. ASTRIDE A PINK HORSE is simultaneously fun and thought-provoking, entertaining and heart-breaking. While there were some elements of the plot that I wondered if they could be tighter, it also strikes me that Greer may very well be leaving himself room to continue with these characters down the line, and that would be a very good thing.

ASTRIDE A PINK HORSE is available today in hardcover (ISBN: 9781583943694) from North Atlantic Books.

2 comments:

Jenn's Bookshelves March 27, 2012 at 8:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenn's Bookshelves March 27, 2012 at 8:39 AM  

I so agree with everything you've said. This one was a real surprise for me, never could I have imagined the impact this book left on me!

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