Reading The West: “The Darkness Rolling” offers fast-paced story, but not strong mystery
Win Blevins, known for his portrayal of Crazy Horse in the award-winning book “Stone Song” and his tribute to the mountain men “Give Your Heart to the Hawks,” has teamed with his wife, mystery writer Meredith Blevins, for “The Darkness Rolling.”
These two turned to their current backyard — the Monument Valley of southern Utah and northern Arizona, rich with the stories of the Navajo people — for inspiration.
In “The Darkness Rolling,” World War II is over and Yazzie Goldman is headed home after a six-year hitch in the U.S. Navy. He served as a shore patrolman for most of that time, with a little work for NCIS on the side.
Yazzie wants to see his mother and his grandfather, who reared him and is the only father he’s ever known, but as he approaches their home and trading post, he stops at the set of a new film being made by John Ford. John Ford is the legendary folmmaker who first used Monument Valley on the big screen.
Yazzie worked for Ford before the war, Ford remembers his abilities, including the fact that he speaks three languages. Yazzie barely makes it on the set to speak with Ford before he is offered a job. This is no ordinary work. He won’t be an extra in the film or work on the crew as a production assistant or gaffer. Instead, he will serve as a security guard for one of the film’s stars — Linda Darnell.
A short ride on the Super Chief, a fast train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago, and a few days with the star makes it clear she has more in mind for Yazzie than just having him keep her safe.
Linda Darnell starts receiving written threats, and at the same time, there is a dark presence stalking the family of Yazzie Goldman. It’s a presence from their past that threatens to destroy everything.
This is a fast-paced story steeped in Navajo tradition and the landscape of Monument Valley. The mystery is not particularly strong as the two viewpoints used to tell the story give the reader too clear of a view of the actions and motivations of the characters, but in the vein of Tony Hillerman, it does provide a story with a strong setting. ❖
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I want to address a couple of issues in this week’s editor’s note.