BOOK REVIEW: AMERICAN COPPER by Shann Ray (fiction, 2015)

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This is a story set in the Montana copper mining country around Butte. It has little to do with the mining industry but focuses on several people involved in it.

Josef Lowry, “the Baron”, is a powerful mining executive, used to getting his own way. He lost his wife to illness some years ago, and when his only son is killed in a mining accident, he focuses his attention on his daughter Evelynne, an attractive girl in her twenties who would like to assert her own independence.

Three young men hold her attention: William Black Kettle and Raymond Killsnight both descended from Cheyenne Indian chiefs, worked together as a team on the rodeo circuit. The third, at age sixteen was already a six feet three inch two hundred fifty pound giant of a man who worked sometimes with the railroad, sometimes as a fighter in the bar rooms of the towns laying out challengers with a single powerful blow. Sometimes working as a horse trainer, infinitely gentle and patient.

Author Ray has an unusual .writing style, combining short chapters (averaging three pages) coupled with a talent for vivid description. At first I was puzzled on how a young woman could develop a well balanced personality in the sole presence of a dictatorial father. It was explained by the presence of an elderly Chinese servant, Chan, who could marshal as many as two dozen body guards to keep track of Evelynne in public appearances. Chan often uses his own judgment to allow Evelynne a more normal social life.

Author Shann Ray is a local auhor, living in Spokane. He teaches leadership and forgiveness studuies at Gonzaga University.

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