Mysterious Book Report The PloughmenThe Ploughmen by Kim Zupan

Henry Holt, $26.00, 256 pages, ISBN 978-0-8050-9951-5

The Ploughmen is a remarkable work that will resonate with readers on several levels: its unique storyline, rich characterizations, linguistics, lyricism and the author’s professed and obvious love of the land. The story takes place in Montana, where the author was born and raised, where he still lives and teaches at the University of Montana in Missoula. Making the novel all the more interesting is the fact that it’s author Kim Zupan’s first work of fiction . . .

The Ploughmen, is a story of the relationship between two men: John Gload, a seventy-seven year old career criminal, a remorseless serial killer who’s in jail awaiting trial and a young deputy sheriff named Valentine Millimaki, assigned to guard him. Gload is a stone-cold killer who suffers from insomnia, and he and Millimaki, prompted by the sheriff to get the details of Gloads other crimes, talk through the night. Incredibly, Gload has never been convicted, even though the authorities have known of his criminal behavior, because they can’t prove he’s guilty. The Sheriff’s hopes to close out a few of his open, unsolved murder cases, but Millimaki, can’t seem to get anything of substance from the wily old man. As the nights go on, a complex relationship develops while the two men talk the time away and reveal more of their personal lives. The one thing they have in common is a love of the land, and a childhood spent on the farm. The writing is stunning, and the story is complex as well as compelling. The Ploughmen has all the makings of a classic . . . it’s a novel for the ages. If this is Mr. Zupan’s first, I can hardly wait to see what he writes next. Bravo! It’s a five star effort as far as I’m concerned.


John Dwaine McKenna