Monday, November 17, 2008

Magic Lance-Hal Simmons

Magic Lance
Hal Simmons
Clear Light Publishing, Aug 2008, $14.95
823 Don Diego, Santa Fe NM 87505
ISBN: 9781574160949

The tribe has made a fortune with its Magic Lance casino. Now the tribal war concerned with having all their eggs in one basket directs Lucky Joe to purchase ranch land with the goal to establish a Native American state.

As the pattern begins to surface, those in Washington and in the surrounding western states become concerned with the Indian power grab. Especially upset are local politicians who fear losing power and white ranchers who are disturbed by being archipelagoes in a red sea. Other strange bedfellows from environmentalists to hunters to organized crime mobsters to even some tribal members join the anti tribal land grab. In the midst of all this posturing while Lucky Joe legally continues his purchases and the casino brings in money by the truckload, small rancher Lance Burnett tries to run his spread even as his inner city teacher wife Jan leaves him to escape the lonely existence and he is attracted to the ranch manager next door Lighting McClain, whose owner wants his land at discount sales rate in order to compete with the Indian purchases.

This excellent regional thriller rotates perspective predominantly between what is happening to Lance and Lucky Joe until their subplots deftly converge; plausible but unexpected twists keep readers wondering where the two scenarios are going. Fans will enjoy this modern take of Old West “economic politics” in the twenty-first century especially the unintended consequences of the casinos as devastating a way of life while also becoming an equalizer. Insightful throughout with consistent characters behaving according to their moral code, MAGIC LANCE is a complex character driven tale that readers will appreciate as Hal Simmons shines a clear light on the New West.

Harriet Klausner