Friday, May 29, 2015

The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan

Two men who have very little in common are thrown together by crime and punishment in the Montana penal system. Valentine Milimaki is a young Copper County sheriff assigned to guard psychopathic serial killer, John Gload, an old man finally caught after years of criminal activity.  They are able to make a connection despite their very great differences. Both grew up essentially motherless on hardscrabble Montana farms. Both love their wives but have trouble with their relationships. And neither one can sleep. Gload was a ruthless killer who robbed and mutilated his victims to cover up his crimes. He had been a careful killer, so although he began his life of crime as a young teen, he was not caught until he reached his seventies. After Gload’s arrest, Milimaki must sit guard outside of Gload’s cell, listening to him chain smoke and talk about his past, all the while worrying about his wife, who seems about to leave him. Other deputies try to interfere with their odd relationship, believing the deputy to be too soft to handle a killer. They don’t realize that Gload can still be just as dangerous in prison as he was out of it.   In The Ploughmen, Kim Zupan has written, in a spare style, a thriller and an evocative description of Montana’s landscape as well as its rural inhabitants.