THE REVIEWS ARE IN …
THE GRAND IS A GRAND SLAM !
“Wilson crafts a classic crime thriller plot and combines it with a complex sense of place in this multifaceted novel. The mystery is a joy to read, as its simple beginnings give way to a much more complicated truth with plenty of twists and turns to follow. The mystery may bring readers to the table, but the vibrant characters and Jackson Hole setting should keep them turning pages.” -Kirkus Reviews
“If you like your crime stories tough, tight, and intelligent, this one’s for you… a complex plot worthy of Raymond Chandler comparisons… This novel has the satisfactory feel of an old school practitioner plying his trade classically.” -Joe Kilgore, US Review of Books
“Highly engrossing…the story begins with a bang and from there the emotional roller coaster doesn’t stop until the last page…a gem of a book…4 out of 4 stars!” -OnlineBookClub.org
“If you like James Lee Burke, you’ll enjoy Dennis Wilson’s debut, THE GRAND… Wilson paints Jackson Hole in bright mountain colors, showing how this bastion of the skiing wealthy mixes uneasily with self-styled cowboys, hunters and desperadoes. The plot twist midway through the book was well executed and makes the book a rewarding read… 5 out 5 stars” -Jame DiBiasio, author of “Bloody Paradise”
In his debut novel, Dennis D. Wilson creates a political crime thriller straight from today’s headlines. Chicago cop Dean Wister takes a forced vacation when he is on the brink of a breakdown after the death of his wife. During his summer solstice in Jackson Hole, where he met her years before, he is called in by local police to consult when a notorious Chicago mobster is found dead in the Snake River. What has drawn the hit man west to murder a popular local citizen and pollute the pristine mountain enclave of the rich and famous–is it love, sex, money, or power? Or is it somehow related to the Presidential campaign of Wyoming’s favorite son? Dean’s investigation threatens to uncover the secrets of a group of memorable suspects, ranging from rich tycoons to modern day cowboys, with political consequences reaching far beyond the small resort town. As Dean follows the leads in the case from Jackson Hole to Chicago to Washington D.C., he also struggles to cope with the personal loss that threatens his mental stability, as the nocturnal visits from his deceased wife suppress his will to let her go and make him question his purpose in life. The climactic scenes contain reveals the reader will never see coming. A funny, romantic, sexy, roller coaster thriller: think Elmore Leonard meets Tom Wolfe.
Authors Craig Johnson and C.J. Box have created similar versions of Wyoming in their best selling novels. Why does Dean Wister’s Wyoming in “The Grand” differ from the portrait of the state contained in their books? Johnson’s Sheriff Longmire and Box’s game warden exist in a Wyoming changed very little in its world view from the turn of the century. Although their plots are complicated when the outside world disrupts their cocoon, the perspective of their protagonists is that of the rural Wyoming native. But in today’s Wyoming there is an internal struggle with the outside world. And that struggle, the paradoxical Wyoming, is the Wyoming of Dean Wister. The Wyoming government carried the fight against gay marriage long after the U.S. Supreme Court considered it settled law. And Wyoming has chosen to forego Federal Medicaid dollars for the working poor; they would rather their poor citizens have no health insurance at all than accept Federally subsidized insurance. This in spite of the fact that Wyoming is one of the richest states in the country because of its energy resources, and as a result has no income tax and very low property and sales taxes.
As Sheriff Cody says in “The Grand,” Teton County attracts people like “one of them super magnets.” And the people it attracts are not Wyoming natives. The billionaires, movie stars, naturalists, artists, mountain climbers and skiers do not come to Wyoming because of its liberal gun laws, disdain for the working poor, conservative politics, or even for the stark barren beauty of rural Wyoming so elegantly described by Johnson and Box. They come because they are drawn by the spirituality of the mountains. Sitting at the bar at my favorite restaurant in Jackson Hole, I have met many of these people. The pure souls among them come solely for the spiritual quest, whether that be to ski the perfect line, climb a sheer wall of granite, put their vision of this beauty on canvas, or protect some of the most precious resources left in our land. Most of them stay until they need to move on to a different phase of their lives. But some stay forever, eking out a subsistence existence so they can continue to pursue their journey. Even the obnoxious hedge fund managers I’ve met recognize that this place can fill an emptiness in their soul, but they think they can easily acquire that missing piece, just another asset that can be bought.
In “The Grand,” Dean Wister is on a spiritual quest of healing, and Senator McGraw is on a journey of political and personal evolution. McGraw’s struggles are reflective of both present day Wyoming and the most conservative parts of our country. Dean is not from Wyoming like Johnson’s Sheriff or Box’s warden. He has been drawn to Wyoming for a reason. McGraw, though a Wyoming native, is struggling to reconcile his fiercely independent and self-reliant Wyoming values with those of a more humanistic world.
Johnson and Box have done very well in introducing a group of readers to their version of Wyoming, and as a result, there is now a large base of readers interested in Wyoming based story telling. “The Grand” provides a different version of Wyoming, and I think a version is just as relevant to today’s complex and diverse world.