Montana Blues

· Writers Canyon Press

About this ebook

Montana Blues is an unusual mystery-thriller novel -- the story of a wrongly-convicted Black man and a spirited White woman who face racial violence on a spectacular landscape.

Dawson Koloko grew up playing football in a rough neighborhood of Long Beach, California. It helped him cope with a family tragedy and he’s tough enough to be recruited for the Montana State University team. He has culture shock landing in a place that’s very White and still wild. When he dates a White Montana cheerleader, Nikki Fontaine, she winds up murdered and a biased justice system blames him for the crime.

Rose Fontaine, Nikki's identical twin sister, testifies against Dawson in the trial and helps send him to prison. She grew up in Montana oilfields and, as she’s also wounded emotionally by the murder, she finds some relief making her living outdoors on horseback.

When new evidence frees Dawson from prison, he and Rose struggle to overcome their differences, trying to team up to hunt the real murderer. They have to deal with White supremacists, the turmoil of shifting relationships, horse rides and bison roundups in stormy weather and an epic struggle on an almost-frozen lake. One of them is struck blind, at least temporarily, as their hunt continues. Feels like everybody is on thin ice …

About the author

Ray Ring is a novelist and journalist rooted in the American West, focusing on underdogs and bad actors, inequality, environmental science and our drift toward dystopia. He tries to deal with everything with a sense of humor.

Ray’s four novels are unusual mysteries or hardboiled noir: Montana Blues (2023), Arizona Kiss (1991), Peregrine Dream (1990) and Telluride Smile (1988).

Ray’s journalism has appeared in many publications devoted to accuracy, including the longtime nonprofit High Country NewsOutside magazine, The Arizona Daily Star and Harper’s Magazine. He’s won twelve national journalism awards, including a George Polk Award for Political Reporting, a Mental Health America Media Award for an essay about his schizophrenic brother’s suicide, and an Investigative Reporters & Editors scroll for going undercover posing as a convict in a max-security prison.

What shapes Ray’s writing? He studied in six public U.S. universities without fitting into any ivory towers, and did a range of blue-collar work as a young man. The time away from his desk includes sand-infused river trips and honeymoon backpacking in the Grand Canyon, and work as a city firefighter, taxi driver and head of maintenance at the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station — 9,500 feet above sea level. He knows a bit about how to drive an old bulldozer and a fire engine, and how to fix some of the broken things using whatever is handy.

Also among the experiences that shape his writing, Ray has survived two rollover car wrecks and a motorcycle wreck, and getting hit by a car while walking in a crosswalk, and getting clubbed by a cop while standing still during a mass demonstration against the Vietnam War, and getting roughed up by a prison gang while he did the undercover journalism posing as a convict.

Ray earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado-Boulder, but he got expelled by one university and was temporarily tossed out of Canada, in unrelated incidents.

So Ray knows how it feels to get knocked down, and that helps him be empathetic in his writing.

Ray and his longtime wife, Linda Platts, live in Tucson, where they enjoy the borderland culture and hiking and glimpses of bobcats in the yard or on the roof.

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