Ross Thomas wrote a couple of dozen clever books about the worlds of spies and criminals. "The Eighth Dwarf" is about the middle of the pack. It share...moreRoss Thomas wrote a couple of dozen clever books about the worlds of spies and criminals. "The Eighth Dwarf" is about the middle of the pack. It shares the snarky dialogue and mordant cynicism of the rest. It's central plot mechanism is an international hunt for a particular proficient hit man just after World War II and just before the creation of the state of Israel. Among the hunters are Minor Jackson and Radu Florescu, the dwarf of the title. Both are cyncical to the max, and Florescu is a world class liar, but they are nice guys compared to all of the others among the hunters and hunted. Once in a while the snarkiness gets hard to bear, largely because of its nonstop nature.(less)
Red Cloud lays at the core of this general history of white-Indian conflict during his lifetime. He provided an almost unprecedented kind of leadershi...moreRed Cloud lays at the core of this general history of white-Indian conflict during his lifetime. He provided an almost unprecedented kind of leadership (Tecumseh was another), and presided over the one victorious Indian war against I the whites (though Osceola clearly defeated the whites in the First Seminole War).(less)
The Wolfes are a border family (on both sides through intermarriage with another family of anglo origins but Mexican bases of operation). They have so...moreThe Wolfes are a border family (on both sides through intermarriage with another family of anglo origins but Mexican bases of operation). They have some legitimate business interests, but are essentially smugglers and gunrunners. One of the younger members gets in trouble with the Sinaloa drug cartel due to his bad judgment, and is running for his life. Two of the Wolfes, Rudy and Franky, the specialists in such matters, go to his rescue against long odds. This book is the second novel about the Wolfes, and I look forward to the third.(less)
Duncan McCallum, exiled Scot chief of a destroyed clan, becomes involved in the dangerous territory (both physical and psychic) between two worlds. He...moreDuncan McCallum, exiled Scot chief of a destroyed clan, becomes involved in the dangerous territory (both physical and psychic) between two worlds. He and his particular friend, Conawago, reach a village of Christianized Delaware Indians that has been ravaged by war, crime, or both. A dozen or so villagers have been killed, including a dear friend of Conawago's, and several children have been taken captive to some dark end. In addition, it appears that the robbery of a British army payroll has taken place nearby, resulting in other deaths. McCallum and Conawago seek out the children, but McCallum also seeks to identify those responsible for the robbery. The search initially takes the friends in different directions, and McCallum is arrested for both the murders of the villagers and those of two of the escorts to the payroll. How McCallum extricates himself from the charge becomes a small piece of a set of much larger issues: How do McCallum and his wise friend retrieve the children, spike the claims of an Indian prophet out to wrest America away from the British (for whom McCallum has scant regard), and put down a Jacobite rising among the Highlanders who fight for the British. They also are charged with saving the Iroquois governing council, and crossing across the spirit line between the living and the dead to save the old spirits themselves.
Somehow all these elements (and more) work, though the book is a slow read. The shifting between friends and enemies, between the living and the dead, the French and the British, the British and the Indians require the two friends and their small band of allies to be in constant danger, often metaphysical as much as physical. The book is well done, and is the third in a good seres, but it requires concentration. Pattison's interest in the fate of the Indians at the hands of the Europeans is as well developed in this series as is his interest in the fate of Tibetans at the hands of the Chinese in his other series (see "The Skull Manta," and others).(less)