Wednesday, April 5, 2023

The Trackers

The Trackers by Charles Frazier
4/11/23; 336 pages

The Trackers by Charles Frazier is highly recommended historical fiction set during the Great Depression.

In 1937 Val Welch, an artist with the WPA (Works Progress Administration of the New Deal), is commissioned to paint a mural inside the post office of Dawes, Wyoming. He has been given a contact in the area, wealthy rancher John Long and his wife, Eve, who are also providing a cabin for Welch to live in during his stay. The first person Welch meets on the ranch is Faro, a tough but well seasoned cowboy right out of the old West. When he meets the Longs he is surprised to see older Long is married to a glamorous young woman who used to be a singer in a traveling band and before that a hobo. Long has political aspirations while Eve is less than thrilled with the idea of that life. When Eve takes off one day with a valuable painting, Long hires Welch to find her, which sends him on a cross country journey.

The quality of the descriptive writing is beautiful, and some of the philosophical monologues by various characters are interesting. Frazier does a commendable job portraying life during the Great Depression. I especially enjoyed the discussion about preparation, planning and painting the mural using tempera paint.

The characters are all portrayed as realistic, unique individuals but also tend toward caricatures of a type of person - ambitious wealthy man, old wise man, sensitive artist, beautiful woman. Admittedly, the characters are also very different from each other. All the males characters love Eve, but there is no real reason for this other than she is an enigma and a beautiful woman.

The novel started out strong and then began to lose my interest. There are a few drawbacks. The lack of quotation marks is troublesome at times and the plot didn't always hold my interest and attention. The idea that Long would send a painter off as a detective to find Eve never really made sense, no matter how it was explained. Read this for the quality of the writing rather than the plot.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins via NetGalley.

No comments: