THE GREAT LEADER – “What Went Wrong?”

November 18, 2011

The Great Leader by Jim Harrison

Grove Press, 2011

332 pages, $24 (hardcover)

I saw this one on the new arrival display at the library. I’ve gulped down a couple Jim Harrison books before and thought it might be a nice break from the heavy reading I was doing. Besides my folks were from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and this was the only “Yooper”writer who ever made it big. When I got home I read the author bio on the inside back cover and realized my mistake. Harrison now lives in Arizona. But, what the hell!

As I got into the novel, I was changing my mind. This is about a retired UP detective tracking down a cult leader in Arizona. Sunderson has the fishing-season/hunting-season philosophy no matter where he is and being retired he is at a loss as to what his life is all about (I am retired and accept any answers along that line I can get). He is recovering from a divorce three years past and wondering about, not so much cults, but what spirituality is all about. Suddenly I am reading a book about a guy like myself who reads a lot and is still intimidated by his mother. I don’t know that this subject would mean anything to women or younger males, but who cares.

About three-quarters of the way through I realize Harrison isn’t delivering any answers. On the contrary, his detective is chasing a child molester but he has a streak of that within himself. And the faux-Native American spirituality to readily gives way to a cult’s accumulating money (no one’s salvation) and I, as a reader, feel betrayed. Go live in Arizona, Jim Harrison, make your annoying lists to yourself, but next time don’t bother to drag us along.

To order directly from Amazon for only $13.21. Click this link:
The Great Leader


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