Cover image for Cold country : a novel
Title:
Cold country : a novel
ISBN:
9781945814921
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
248 pages ; 22 cm.
Geographic Term:
Summary:
Montana, 1968: The small town of Paradise Valley is ripped open when popular rancher and notorious bachelor Tom Butcher is found murdered one morning, beaten to death by a baseball bat. Suspicion among the tight-knit community immediately falls on the outsider, Carl Logan, who recently moved in with his family and his troubled son Roger. What Carl doesn't realize is that there are plenty of people in Paradise Valley who have reason to kill Tom Butcher. Complications arise when the investigating officers discover that Tom Butcher had a secret--a secret he kept even from Junior Kirby, a lifelong rancher and Butcher's best friend. As accusations fly and secrets are revealed one after another, the people of Paradise Valley learn how deeply Tom Butcher was embedded in their lives, and that they may not have known him at all. --
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Summary

Summary

Montana, 1968: The small town of Paradise Valley is ripped open when popular rancher and notorious bachelor Tom Butcher is found murdered one morning, beaten to death by a baseball bat. Suspicion among the tight-knit community immediately falls on the outsider, Carl Logan, who recently moved in with his family and his troubled son Roger. What Carl doesn't realize is that there are plenty of people in Paradise Valley who have reason to kill Tom Butcher.

Complications arise when the investigating officers discover that Tom Butcher had a secret--a secret he kept even from Junior Kirby, a lifelong rancher and Butcher's best friend. As accusations fly and secrets are revealed one after another, the people of Paradise Valley learn how deeply Tom Butcher was embedded in their lives, and that they may not have known him at all.

With familiar mastery, Russell Rowland, the author of In Open Spaces and Fifty-Six Counties , returns to rural Montana to explore a small town torn apart by secrets and suspicions, and how the tenuous bonds of friendship struggle to hold against the differences that would sever us.


Author Notes

Russell Rowland was born in Bozeman, MT in 1957. He has an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University. The Difference Between Us is his fifth novel and his seventh book. His first novel, In Open Spaces , was called a novel of muted elegance" by the New York Times . He lives in Billings, Montana."


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in 1968, this evocative novel from Rowland (In Open Spaces) explores the fallout from the beating murder of gadfly rancher Tom Butcher, who was beloved by some and loathed by other residents of Paradise Valley, Mont. Though any number of townsfolk could be suspects in Tom's murder, the locals are quick to lay blame on newcomer Carl Logan, who was hired to manage wealthy Peter Kenwood's ranch, snatching the position from a jealous longtime employee. A former school teacher, Carl has long dreamed of owning a ranch and uprooted his wife and three children from an unspecified locale to take the job in Paradise Valley. Meanwhile, Carl's headstrong 10-year-old son, Roger, sparks controversy as the boy stands up to a school bully and brings greater scrutiny on the Logan family. The murder mystery propels the story, but Rowland's clear-eyed look at mid-20th-century rural life provides a satisfying portrait of the frayed bonds within a community whose members must sometimes depend on people who repel them. (Nov.)


Kirkus Review

From veteran novelist and longtime Montanan Rowland (Arbuckle, 2018, etc.), a new novel that looks at first like a murder mystery...but turns out to be mostly a dark-toned but affectionate pastoral about ranch life in rugged 1968 Montana.Carl Logan is a former city schoolteacher who's just moved his familymuch to his wife's chagrinto Paradise Valley, a tiny ranching town where he's been hired as manager of the spread owned by wealthy outsider Peter Kenwood. Carl is both a newcomer and, many believe, a kind of usurper, since Kenwood has bypassed longtime hand Lester Ruth to hire Carl. So when rival rancher Tom Butcher, a bon vivant bachelor with a reputation as a ladykiller who is in some ways both the town's most popular and most despised person, is found beaten to death with a baseball bat, suspicion falls first and most heavily on Carl. The mystery of who's offed Tom and why becomes the engine of the novel but not its subject or reason for being: This is a love letter to the small-town, rough-and-tumble, fisticuff-heavy ranch life of 50 years ago. Rowland's interest in the murder plot is mainly as a way to explore a subject that cozy mysteries generally gloss over: How do you live in a community where neighbors have no choice but to stay in close contact, to trust and rely upon each other, when you know that one of those neighbors must be a killer who's hiding in plain sight? In straight-ahead, unfussy prose, Rowland keeps the novel humming along. The mystery fizzles a bit in the end, but by then the reader will know that's not where this book's heart is.A quick-moving, plainspoken, mostly charming exploration of the hardscrabble life of the livestock rancher of old. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

Montana resident Rowland (In Open Spaces; "Arbuckle" series) utilizes his understanding of the land and its people to tell an intriguing story about a small community that hides many secrets and is the center of a brutal murder. In 1968, a wealthy ranger, Tom Butcher, is beaten to death with a baseball bat in an incident that shocks the ranching community of Paradise Valley, an area north of Yellowstone National Park. A family, new to the area, is immediately suspected; accusations stem from their son's fight with a school bully. As the story unfolds, dysfunctional families are forced to face the truth and reveal their relationships with and feelings toward the victim. This story reminds readers that people everywhere hide unpleasantness, distrust newcomers, and are quick to cast doubt, even on old friends, and that bullies come in all ages. Rowland's plot includes all family members, which makes the story riveting. No single character is the sleuth or solves the mystery. VERDICT Fans of regional mysteries will find this delightful.--Patricia Ann Owens, formerly at Illinois Eastern Community Coll., Mt. Carmel