Jennifer Reese
May 02, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In 1911, a white family is murdered on their North Dakota farm, and the blame falls on the four Indians who find the bodies. One manages to survive the lynch mob, and decades later tells the woeful story to his granddaughter, Evelina. It gradually becomes clear that everyone she knows is linked to the events, from the Indian boy she crushes on to her schoolteacher nun. Other characters pop up out of nowhere to share their tales, but their connections to the central drama seem forced. Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves reads more like a collection of random episodes than a coherent novel. B-

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