Billie Letts,
Shoot the Moon
(Time Warner, 2004)

I am simply going to start off stating that I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook version of Billie Letts' novel Shoot the Moon. This book focuses on a murder-mystery three decades old. Back in 1972, in the small town of DeClare, Oklahoma, a young Gaylene Harjo was brutally murdered. Her 10-month-old baby boy, Nicky Jack, had disappeared and was presumed dead.

After all this time, a man comes to town claiming he is Nicky Jack. He says he learned he was adopted by a couple in California; upon their deaths he found his birth certificate and adoption paperwork. He has come back to Oklahoma to find out why his mother put him up for adoption. Instead, he hears about her murder for the first time.

There was a man arrested for Gaylene's murder. Officially, this man committed suicide. But most folks in town suspect he wasn't guilty and truly wonder if he killed himself.

Nicky Jack, or Mark as he has been called most of his life, meets some of his relatives and starts his own investigation -- not only into who murdered his biological mother, but also who fathered him. There is some evidence pointing to the foul-tempered, wholly unlikable sheriff of DeClare as the perpetrator of both acts. But as with most murder-mysteries, the guilty party usually isn't the obvious suspect.

Lou Diamond Phillips narrates Shoot the Moon. He does a superb job of switching accents, genders, ethnicity and age as he speaks for at least a dozen characters over the course of six hours. In fact, I would have to say that after Rene Auberjonois, Lou is perhaps one of the best audiobook readers I've come across (and I listen to a lot of audiobooks). Lou is probably best known for his role in La Bamba. He has also been in Courage Under Fire and Stand & Deliver.

Billie Letts has written prior novels including Where the Heart Is and The Honk & Holler Opening Soon. Billie was, at one time, a professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She is still a resident of the state.

The title of the book, Shoot the Moon references going for all the tiles in a game of dominos. Some minor characters in the book live to play the game. I missed the reason for this being the title unless it refers to Nicky Jack (or Mark) going for it all in regards to the woman he falls in love with.

Despite the title, the audiobook version of Shoot the Moon has two things going for it, in my opinion. The first is having Lou Diamond Phillips perform the reading. The second is that this book stumped me as to who the murderer was and who fathered Nicky Jack until shortly before they were revealed. I like stories where hints are given, but you still have to pay careful attention or you will be wrong when it comes to figuring out "who done it."

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 16 April 2005

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