I love Ivan Doig for his writing and his powerful ability to evoke character and place. In that respect, Work Song is no exception: it features a strong cast of interesting and well-portrayed characters, and the setting of 1919 Butte, Montana, serves almost as another character. However, similar to my impression of his previous novel, The Whistling Season, I felt something of a let-down with this book. It feels as if it lacks the depth and complexity of his earlier works such as Dancing at the Rascal Fair. The plotline is relatively simple and straightforward, and the ending is neat and tidy and not entirely unpredictable. The book is relatively short and felt almost more like a novella than a full novel – I was engaged in the story and certainly enjoyed reading it, but I was not so engaged that I felt completely lost in the world he created.
I am beginning to think that it is high time I re-read Dancing at the Rascal Fair, to see if my memories of it as more complex than these more recent works are in fact accurate.