Thunder Horse

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Gabriel Du Pre’ is an Eastern Montana cattle-brand inspector, a local legend as a fiddle player, and a sometime sheriff’s deputy. His best friends are Booger Tom, an old cowboy, and Bart, a local landowner, earthmover, and entrepreneur. They hang out a lot at the Toussaint Bar, run by the sheriff’s wife, Susan, and sometimes by Du Pre’s girlfriend, Madelaine.

In THUNDER HORSE, as Bart is preparing to dig trout ponds at Le Doux Springs for a Japanese company’s resort, a mysterious project since the resort will be in the middle of nowhere at the base of the Wolf Mountains, an earthquake unearths a burial ground around a piece of dinosaur skeleton, and a man is found dead in the snow near a snowmobile, with a backpack containing a fossilized dinosaur tooth. The skeleton turns out to be that of a Tyrannousaurus Rex, and the burial ground that of the Horned Star People, a tribe of Caucasians that apparently came to the area long before. Du Pre’ decides to find the murderer, and an archaeologist named Burdette is called in to examine the bones.

The resulting investigation leads Du Pre’ to a local medicine man, to the Museum of the Rockies, from which the dinosaur tooth was apparently stolen, to a strange old archaeologist named Morgenstern, to some generations-old rivalries between the Metis and the Sioux and the Crow tribes, and to a secret cave protecting an entire dinosaur skeleton.

Not only a mystery, the story is permeated with history, archaeology, the magic of the medicine man, geography, and a fascinating sense of the depth of history and magic that fills that part of the country, and that makes this particular mystery so complex and dangerous.