by Bernard Schopen
University of Nevada Press, 2023
Paper: 978-1-64779-118-6 | eISBN: 978-1-64779-119-3
Library of Congress Classification PS3569.C52814D76 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 377.419576

Desert stillness meets the cacophony of Las Vegas.

Norman “Fats” Rangle, an ex–deputy sheriff, operates a horse stabling and excursion business with his brother and sister-in-law on their family ranch in the small rural community of Blue Lake, a few hours outside of Las Vegas. By chance, high on a southern Nevada mountain range, Fats discovers the wreckage of a plane that crashed two years earlier. Although he reports his find to the sheriff, he does not disclose that someone had already been to the crash site—evidence that Fats deliberately destroyed.

Soon, Fats is tracking back and forth between Las Vegas and Blue Lake in a search for a missing cousin, a briefcase full of cash, and, finally, for a killer. Along the way, Fats also begins to understand that he’s searching for himself and his place in a rapidly changing West.

Angry and alienated, Fats distrusts everyone he meets, from sleaze-merchants and political power brokers to two women: one he wants to believe in, a retired judge; and the other, a police sergeant, he can’t quite believe isn’t deceiving him. After all, in this Nevada, corruption is a given. Everybody lies. Much is uncertain—motives, loyalties, affections. But in Drowning in the Desert, one thing is certain: water is a precious resource that can both kill and be killed for.

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