From the book
Sheriff Boone Taylor, enjoying a rare off-duty day, drew back his battered fishing rod and cast the fly-hook far out over the rushing, sun-spangled waters of Big Sky River. It ran the width of Parable County, Montana, that river, curving alongside the town of Parable itself like the crook of an elbow. Then it extended westward through the middle of the neighboring community of Three Trees and from there straight on to the Pacific.
He didn't just love this wild, sprawling country, he reflected with quiet contentment. He was Montana, from the wide sky arching overhead to the rocky ground under the well-worn soles of his boots. That scenery was, to his mind, his soul made visible.
A nibble at the hook, far out in the river, followed by a fierce breaking-away, told Boone he'd snagged--and already lost--a good-sized fish. He smiled--he'd have released the catch anyway, since there were plenty of trout in his cracker-box-sized freezer--and reeled in his line to make sure the hook was still there. He found that it wasn't, tied on a new one. For him, fishing was a form of meditation, a rare luxury in his busy life, a peaceful and quiet time that offered solace and soothed the many bruised and broken places inside him, while shoring up the strong ones.
He cast out his line again, and adjusted the brim of his baseball cap so it blocked some of the midmorning glare blazing in his eyes. He'd forgotten his sunglasses back at the house--if that junk heap of a double-wide trailer could be called a "house"--and he wasn't inclined to backtrack to fetch them.
So he squinted, and toughed it out. For Boone, toughing things out was a way of life.
When his cell phone jangled in the pocket of his lightweight cotton shirt, worn unbuttoned over an old T-shirt, he muttered under his breath, grappling for the device. He'd have preferred to ignore it and stay inaccessible for a little while longer. As sheriff, though, he didn't have that option. He was basically on call, 24/7, like it or not.
He checked the number, recognized it as Molly's, and frowned slightly as he pressed the answer bar. She and her husband, Bob, had been raising Boone's two young sons, Griffin and Fletcher, since the dark days following the death of their mother and Boone's wife. Corrie, a few years before. A call from his only sibling was usually benign--Molly kept him up-to-date on how the boys were doing--but there was always the possibility that the news was bad, that something had happened to one or both of them. Boone had reason to be paranoid, after all he'd been through, and when it came to his kids, he definitely was.
"Molly?" he barked into the receiver. "What's up?"
"Hello. Boone." Molly replied, and sure enough, there was a dampness to her response, as though she'd been crying, or was about to, anyhow. And she sounded bone weary, too. She sniffled and put him out of his misery, at least temporarily. "The boys are both fine," she said. "It's about Bob. He broke his right knee this morning--on the golf course, of all places--and the docs in Emergency say he'll need surgery right away. Maybe even a total replacement."
"Are you crying?" Boone asked, his tone verging on a challenge as he processed the flow of information she'd just let loose. He hated it when women cried, especially ones he happened to love, and couldn't help out in any real way.
"Yes," Molly answered, rallying a little. "I am. After the surgery comes rehab, and then more recovery--weeks and weeks of it."
Boone didn't even reel in his line; he just dropped the pole on the rocky bank of the...