‘Bone Fire’ by Mark Spragg

Richly drawn characters populate the small town of Ishawooa, Wyo., the setting of Mark Spragg’s new novel, “Bone Fire,” and some of the names will be familiar to the author’s fans, having appeared in his previous works, “The Fruit of Stone” and “An Unfinished Life.”

Nineteen-year-old Griff, an aspiring artist, has dropped out of college to take care of her ailing grandfather, Einar. Einar, a crabby rancher, still mourns for his lost friends, wife and child. He appreciates Griff’s help and company but wants the girl to finish her education and continue life with her boyfriend, Paul.

Paul lives with his sister’s boyfriend, McEban, and her son, 10-year-old Kenneth. Paul’s sister has followed her own mystic highway, leaving her son in McEban’s care; that is, until the boy’s father decides he wants to rekindle a relationship.

The sheriff, Crane, also has his own problems. He’s married to Griff’s mother, who’s a drunk, and endures the symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s disease, which he watched slowly kill his grandfather.

All their stories intertwine as life’s tragedies unavoidably intrude. Spragg writes of these events with the smoothness of a river stone as he weaves a tale of loss and compassion, loyalty and family, and ultimately, love.

There’s no fast-paced action awaiting readers in this subtle novel, just charming characters and lovely descriptive writing sure to bring a lump to the throat.

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