Indigo Heaven by Mark Warren
Lockdown: Auckland, New Zealand, September 2021. The majority of you will by now be familiar with the feeling of general malaise, of melancholy and disconnect that a level four Covid 19 lockdown entails.
You’re tired, you’re bored and you’re even tired of telling yourself that only boring people get bored. One day you’re so tired of yourself that the breakthrough you’ve been waiting for actually summons the energy to breakthrough and you finally find an anchor for your scattered thoughts.
Along the way you’ve scoured the bookshelves for some overlooked gem and come up empty. And then you recall with a rush of guilt that there’s a book which has long been waiting in your inbox for review. And therein lies the rub. One of the reasons this book has been overlooked is that for convenience in a largely inconvenient Covid world, it’s been sent in PDF format, which is not in itself preferred.
Indigo Heaven is the fourth book by USA-based author Mark Warren I’ve reviewed. The previous three were all from his historical fiction trilogy about legendary lawman Wyatt Earp. In my prior reviews I noted that western fiction is the least likely to engage me. I said at the time that this antipathy made me the perfect person to review the books.
In fact, before Warren’s westerns reached me, my previous level of disinterest in the who-won-the-west-genre could not have been over-stated. But Mark Warren’s historical research and acute observation have made me a convert to the pure escapism that a good cowboy and Indian fiction can provide.
However, I also said in my prior review that characters who accurately reflect the mores of the time can sometimes make for uncomfortable reading. Characterisations of good time gals, strong-jawed heroes and Machiavellian turncoats can seem cliché when compared with contemporary attitudes to feminism and colonisation.
Sometimes it’s hard not to become exasperated waiting for the redemption you know will eventually come. At these times it helps to trust the values of the author who – among his many other occupations - teaches traditional Cherokee Indian survival skills at his Southern Appalachian nature school. You know he’s one of the good guys, so all you can do is immerse yourself and wait for things to come right – or write, as it were.
If a good book is one that is well-written, thoroughly researched and capable of transporting you to a place you’ve never been before and doubted that you wanted to go, then it has done the job for which it was intended.
That this book engaged me so thoroughly at a time when my energies and powers of concentration were so dissipated is no small feat.
Find out more about the author here: http://www.markwarrenbooks.com
Reviewed by Peta Stavelli
Published by Five Star (Cengage)