Book Review: Looking for Lynne
for Tri-State Livestock News
There is a school of thought among writers that “you should write what you know.” John L. Moore has done that and continues to do it in his sixth novel, “Looking for Lynne,” his fourth novel to feature protagonist Ezra Riley.
Ezra Riley is a searcher, someone who is never quite content here on earth, but who has found as much contentment as he’s going to find in the family ranch near Miles City, Mont. and his wife Anne. I would guess that Ezra Riley is based, at least to some degree, on Moore himself.
In Looking for Lynne, Ezra and Anne, now in their sixties, contemplate how to best keep ownership of the ranch. Author Moore doesn’t give them any quiet time to contemplate as a procession of characters crowd the pages, including a journalist, a disenfranchised biologist, an NRCS employee, a western cartoonist, two lost souls from Las Vegas, Nev,, the Riley’s granddaughter and a billionaire. Almost all of these characters are drawn into the story by their various experiences with a deceased character named Lynne, who is most likely based on real-life cowboy Lynne Taylor, also now deceased.
And “writing what you know” works for Moore. I found “Looking for Lynne” to be extremely relatable, not just from a cowboy/agricultural angle, but from his observations on relationships, the dialogue, and the human condition in general. And the way in which Moore weaves the influence of Lynne throughout the story is truly masterful.
Some of the characters in “Looking for Lynne” seem almost too photogenic, spouting lines that are almost too profound, and some of the scenes Moore constructs are plausible but far-fetched, but then again, we don’t remember stories about plain people doing nothing. I was also pleased by the ending, both in content and by the fact that the book stayed strong until the last sentence. There’s nothing more disappointing than a writer (I’m talking to you, Stephen King) who seemingly becomes so overwhelmed by the greatness of his story that he takes a knee in the fourth quarter.
There’s also a bit of “Law & Order” vibe here, with “ripped from the headlines” themes of sage grouse, overpopulation of horses in the U.S., and the aging of the agricultural community.
“Looking for Lynne” should be available by May 12 on amazon.com and Moore plans to do a book signing during the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale. May 12 is nearing the end of the winter reading season, but this would be an excellent book for those last few nights of heifer checks.