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High Plains Tango: A Novelby Robert James Waller
Synopses & Reviews
With over 10 million copies sold, bestselling author Robert James Waller returns with the haunting, evocative story of a small town, a beautiful and mysterious woman, and the man forever changed by both.
The wild places are where no one is looking anymore. Out there on the high plains, among the Sioux reservations and the silent buttes, among the small towns dying and the people with them, you can hear the wind. And on the back of the wind is the sound of an old accordion — tangos — mingling with the lonely thump of a single drum in the nighttime and a far-off warrior's cry. On the back of the wind is the smell of worn saddle leather and sawdust, of sandalwood, and smoke from ancient ceremonial fires. To this, to a town called Salamander, comes Carlisle McMillan, a traveler and master carpenter seeking a place of quiet amid the grinding roar of progress. Near Wolf Butte, a strange and apparently haunted monolith, he finds his quiet, or so he believes, and begins rebuilding a decrepit house as a tribute to the gruff old man who taught him a carpenter's skills, rebuilding his life at the same time.
He finds two very different, independent women: Gally Deveraux, who works at a diner in Salamander and longs for something more than she is; and Susanna Benteen, beautiful and enigmatic, who was drawn to Salamander for mysterious reasons of her own, a woman the town has labeled a witch. The women and his carpenter's trade and an old Indian known as Flute Player bring Carlisle a sense of contentment for a while. But his quiet is shattered as bulldozer treads begin to turn and the Yerkes County War commences. Run or stand your ground, that is Carlisle's dilemma, Gally on one side, Susanna on the other.
Robert James Waller's fully imagined characters become people we know and care for deeply.
High Plains Tango is the hauntingly lyrical story of a small town in the middle of nowhere, a town that forever changed — and was forever changed by — one man.
"A mysterious loner tries to find love and peace of mind in rural South Dakota in Waller's latest, a tepid, unfocused novel that begins when a handsome, independent drifter, Carlisle McMillan, arrives in the tiny town of Salamander. McMillan is the son of Bridges of Madison County photographer Robert Kincaid; he previously appeared in A Thousand Country Roads, in search of his father. The California native and master carpenter with a Stanford degree finds his interest piqued by Salamander, and he buys an abandoned house just outside town, making plans to rebuild it. But trouble comes calling when a corrupt developer decides to seize McMillan's house as part of a potentially lucrative highway project; McMillan fights back with a well-organized battle plan that gets him in trouble with most of the town's residents. Romance is in the offing, too, of course: McMillan takes up with comely Gally Deveraux shortly after her brutish husband dies, but the real object of his desire is beautiful Susanna Benteen, a wild, mysterious woman who keeps company with the local Sioux as they observe McMillan in his fight against the highway project. Waller offers a bit more substance here than in other post-Bridges offerings, but he's still hamstrung by cliche. The result is yet another half-baked attempt to recapture the magic of Madison County. Agent, David Vigliano. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Waller brings schmaltz to another plane....Swinging from renovation chic to antidevelopment polemic, Waller stops along the way for some hackneyed business about an Indian sacred site nearby. About half a book, and pretty thin at that." Kirkus Reviews
"Expect huge demand for this title from readers eager to continue reading about the Kincaid family." Booklist
"Pat as it is, this novel will be in demand owing to the popularity of Waller's previous Kincaid titles. Recommended." Library Journal
Waller's haunting, evocative, and compelling new novel brings back Carlisle McMillan — the son of Robert Kinkaid, the hero of Waller's bestselling The Bridges of Madison County — in this lyrical story of a small South Dakota town, a beautiful and mysterious woman, and the man forever changed by both.
Carlisle McMillan, a young drifter with a dual passion for carpentry and solitude, pulls off the road and decides to settle in Salamander, an all but deserted town located amid the high plains of South Dakota. He buys a few acres near Wolf Butte, an area considered sacred ground by Sioux — and the site of a number of unexplained deaths that the inhabitants of Salamander ascribe to a kind of black magic — and spends the winter building a house. In the process, he befriends an enigmatic woman named Susanna Benteen, who many of the townspeople refer to as "the witch." Indeed, Susanna stands out among the locals with her long auburn hair and apothecary's bag of herbal remedies, but what separates her most from the rest of Salamander is her raw, almost primal beauty — a beauty that haunts Carlisle. Just as Carlisle begins to find a true home in Salamander and his life approaches an unexpected perfection, a highway is proposed that will slice through his property and the sacred Wolf Butte. Carlisle protests its construction and begins to unravel a chain of corruption involving the government and its contractors, as well as a mysterious corporation called AuRA. Strange, violent events begin to occur that may or may not be connected to the troubled history of Wolf Butte. High Plains Tango is a haunting, evocative, and compelling novel from one of the master storytellers of our time.
About the Author
Robert James Waller lives quietly with his wife, Linda, and their dogs and cats on a small farm in the Texas Hill Country, where he pursues his long-standing interests in writing, photography, music, economics, and mathematics. In the Texas evenings, he wades remote Hill Country streams, fly-fishing for bass and trout.
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