Sins of the Younger Sons: A Novel

Sins of the Younger Sons: A Novel

Sins of the Younger Sons: A Novel

Sins of the Younger Sons: A Novel


Luke Burgoa is an ex-Marine on a solitary covert mission to infiltrate the Basque separatist organization ETA in Spain and help bring down its military commander, Peru Madariaga. Luke hails from a Basque ancestry that came with the Spanish empire to Cuba, Argentina, Mexico, and, seventy-five years ago, to a Texas ranch. Neighbors consider the Burgoas Mexican immigrants and exiles of that nation's revolution, but the matriarch of the family speaks the ancient language Euskera and honors traditions of the old country. Luke's orders are to sell guns to the ETA and lure Peru into a trap. Instead he falls in love with Peru's estranged wife, Ysolina, who lives in Paris and pursues a doctorate about an Inquisition-driven witchcraft frenzy in her native land. From the day they cross the border into the Basque Pyrenees, their love affair on the run conveys the beauty, sensuality, exoticism, and violence of an ancient homeland cut in two by Spain and France. Their trajectory puts Luke, Ysolina, and Peru on a collision course with each other and the famed American architect Frank Gehry, whose construction of a Guggenheim art museum seeks to transform the Basque city of Bilbao, a decrepit industrial backwater haunted by the Spanish Civil War--and a hotbed of ETA extremism. Ranging from the Amazon rain forest to a deadly prison in Madrid, Sins of the Younger Sons is a love story exposed to dire risk at every turn.


September 1993

Black of head and mane, the French bay horse was good-natured and lazy. He tried to get along, and Luke Burgoa’s strange Texas saddle no longer bothered him. Luke was leading two pack mules hitched head to tail over a rise. the first mule was big, stout, and black, the other a plump strawberry roan. Luke rode with his hip twisted in the saddle, keeping a gloved hand firm on the lead rope clipped to the black one’s halter. He liked the personality of mules but for the same reason didn’t trust them.

The trail ride through the western Pyrenees grew out of an old tradition of grazing. in mountainous country you pasture livestock high in the summer, low in the winter. These horses belonged to a co-op of landowners who provided the drovers’ labor and entrusted their direction to a man named André Roumanille. For a stiff price the guest riders played at being wranglers, cowboys. André’s hired wranglers wore stained shirts, farm hats, and sideburns, looks of day wages and weary patience. They had to try to keep the amateurs from getting hurt. Most of the guests laughed and carried on in French. Between young men and women, looks shot like arrows.

Early that morning, Luke’s red mule had nailed a horse with both hooves for nosing too close to its tail. the disorder sent a regal-nosed woman in jodhpurs wailing down the slope on a runaway mare. a wrangler scooped her off the horse before real hurt was added to her fear and indignation, but among hoots of excitement there had been some dark probing stares. It was no way for Luke to get started as an unobtrusive Yankee trader.

He rode bareheaded and wore a chamois cotton shirt, Levis, scuffed elkskin boots, and a pair of tight fitting trim-line chaps that Montana . . .

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