As the third book of Ivan Doig’s Montana trilogy opens, Morris “Morrie” Morgan and his new bride Grace Faraday have been on a year-long honeymoon trip around the world (the “happy ending” alluded to in last week’s review). Morrie didn’t exactly come by the money for the trip honestly (no surprise), so he is startled to find out that a private detective is able to locate him in San Francisco to deliver some surprising news.
During Morrie’s year-long absence from Butte, his friend and former employer, Samuel S. Sandison (“Sandy”), became a widower and decided to give his mansion to the Morgans – and Sandy will be their “tenant”. It’s all well and good to own a fabulous home but, alas, Morrie’s library job is no longer available and he must secure gainful employment just to afford the upkeep on his new home.
The miners’ union is still tangling with Anaconda and Morrie’s friend, Jared Evans, is still the union leader and now a state senator. Jared is convinced that Butte needs a new voice to shape public opinion and to combat the company propaganda coming out of the Butte Daily Post, Anaconda’s own “mouthpiece”. Jared had already begun to assemble a staff with just one more position to fill – an editorial writer.
Jared is convinced that Morrie is the man for the job – Morrie imagines a coming epic battle with the Butte Daily Post by quoting from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
When in a wood of Crete they bay’d the bear
With hounds of Sparta,
I never heard
So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.
And so, The Butte Thunder was born. The Thunder quickly becomes a worthy adversary of the Daily Post — Morrie daily jousts with fellow opinion editor, Cecil Cartwright, a.k.a. Cutthroat Cartwright, who just happens to be from Chicago and would know who Morrie really is. Not surprisingly, Morrie is still looking over his shoulder, expecting that at any moment the Chicago mob will find him. Meanwhile he stumbles onto a bootleg liquor operation and is mistaken for the head honcho, further complicating Morrie’s already complicated life (and one that he has never told Grace about).
The book has plenty of twists and turns, and all the while events reflective of rough-and-tumble Butte, Montana in the early twentieth century are woven into the story. As in the two previous books, Morrie’s wit and charm continue to help him wiggle out of one complication after another so it does make for a lively read.
Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!
© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2013.