Coyote Wind

by Peter Bowen

Friday, June 21, 2002

Featured image for Coyote Wind

[these comments are taken from a mailing list discussion and may contain spoilers]

[about du pre]

I’m only two thirds of the way through the book, I’m quite enjoying it though it took me a little while to get my mind into the right rhythm to read it.

I suppose that Du Pre isn’t what I _expect_ of a mystery book hero but I like him all the more for being different to the norm, he’s not exactly likeable but I like him all the same. I think the cattle inspector job fits well with the auxilary law enforcement job to make a good mystery protagonist. I like the fact that he’s got authority to turn up at crime scenes which makes him not a bumbling amateur but he’s not a professional with procedures to follow either.

His family are an interesting cast of women, I especially like Maria and the way that he handles her behaviour, he seems to know what he’s doing even though it seems on the surface that he doesn’t.

The originality of the character and the offbeat story telling style remind me most of Liza Cody’s Eva Wylie but I’m not sure I’ve really come across anyone before who I can compare to Du Pre.

[about the writing style]

It took me a bit of adjustment to get into the rhythm of the writing style but once I’d got the hang of reading in the rhythm it definitely contributed in a major way to my enjoyment of the story and I really liked the writing. I think it’s a good job that I did like the writing as I found the atmosphere to be the major element in this book, the mystery plot wasn’t very big or strong and, for the most part, I didn’t think the characters were brilliant but overall I really liked the book because the language brought it to life in my hands.

[about the women]

I really enjoyed the parts of the book that concerned Du Pre’s youngest daughter Maria though I thought that the story of her “reform” felt a little foreshortened and had not quite enough substance to it. I liked his hands off parenting style on the whole and felt that his constant banging on about how he didn’t understand his women was all a self effacing front seeing as he obviously did know how to handle them pretty well.

The confrontation with the alcohol counsellor seemed out of character to me, he went from allowing Maria to take the consequences for her own actions to getting worked up over a few counselling sessions albeit with a non especially competent sounding counsellor. That bit didn’t really fit for me.

Jacqueline I found harder to understand, perhaps because we saw less of her in this book than Maria but mainly because I found the “having lots of babies for those her dead mother couldn’t have” bit all a bit icky. Up til then I thought Du Pre had done a decent job of raising her and if her choice was to have a large family and have it young and she was happy with that choice then all was well, but the compensating for her mother bit made me think that perhaps Du Pre ought to have let her know that she didn’t need to have lots of babies to please him and open her mind up a little to other things to do with her life.

I liked Du Pre’s relationship with Madelaine, it seemed a good match of equals as far as I could see and I liked the potential complications arising from Madelaine having a family of her own. The number of children and grandchildren made Madelaine and Du Pre appear a lot older to me than they actually were.

I think Du Pre takes care of them as well as he knows how, he doesn’t care for them perfectly, but who does know how to? They take care of him in their own ways too. There was lots of love in all the relationships in both directions. I thought these relationships were all a little idealistic in some ways but they all had flaws that made them more real.

[about benetsee]

To be honest I read the book without really getting what Benetsee was doing there. To me he was just a background character that didn’t make much of an impression on me, someone for Du Pre to talk to who didn’t make a lot of sense.

It’s really good to read everyone elses answers and see what other people saw in him: the ties to Metis ancestry, the touch of non woo-woo mysticism, the seer. It definitely adds to the book when the discussions get into depths that I didn’t even notice myself. I have the second book in the series as my copy of CW was a double bill and I’m looking forward to picking up on the type of things mentioned here in the second book that passed me by in this one.