Basque Moon

In the early 1920s, photographer Nellie Burns leaves Chicago to find adventure and a career in the West. She lands in Ketchum, Idaho. Out one night photographing moonshadows on snow, she discovers and photographs a dead body.


When the body disappears and her negatives are stolen, she joins the chase to solve the mystery and find her negatives. But the Basque sheriff does not welcome her help, and the Chinese residents in town suspect Nellie herself of murder. As Nellie unravels the mystery of the missing body, she encounters a tangled web of revenge, opium addiction, obsessive love and loss, and a haunting story of devotion.

Based on 40 Reviews
Mystic Miraflores
October 15, 2019

I enjoyed this story with the spunky–and sometimes foolhardy–female photographer/detective, Nell Burns. I have always been intrigued by the Basque settlements in Idaho since meeting a professor in college. He is descended from Basque sheepherders in Idaho and it was a big deal in his family for him to earn a PH.D. I enjoyed the descriptions of the scenery and the various rough characters in the book. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

I. Brown
August 1, 2018

5.0 out of 5 stars Great characters in this story

Great characters in this story, the plot is gripping, the setting perfect for a historical western. I enjoyed it tremendously.

November 9, 2017

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful mystery, set in Idaho in the 1920's

A wonderful mystery, set in Idaho in the 1920’s. The protagonist is an ahead-of-her-years woman photographer who is entirely out of her element as a business woman. The story of the cattle people and the sheep people is a recurring theme in western history and is played out beautifully in the story. Be sure to read the previous book, Moonshadows.

5.0 out of 5 stars She's back!

Nellie Burns is back, along with her canine companion Moonshine and her camera, making her way in the still Wild West days of Idaho among an assortment of colorful characters. She’s got just the right temperament to find trouble and just the right skill set, including photography and a kind of pig-headed reckless persistence, to solve crimes. In this sequel to Nellie’s debut in Moonshadows, she negotiates the tensions between Basque sheepherders, cattlemen, and dude ranch cowboys, while matching wits with some truly scoundrelish moonshiners and forging an alliance with another of Idaho’s remarkable and resourceful women. And she moves one notch closer to a more than passing relationship with the enigmatic Sheriff Azgo. Come for the tight plot line, with its escalating suspense; stay for Weston’s ability to evoke the stark beauty of wild Idaho with her sensory-rich prose. I read it twice, to enjoy focusing on each in turn. ***A word about stars*** I can’t tell you how much I dislike stars. Like the grades I hated to give when I taught creative writing, they seem to mean something, but what that something is differs in each instance from all others. Why is one book a four for me instead of a five? It could be anything from a few uncaught typos, an anachronism or two, or an ineffective tense shift to a bit of redundancy or a "fact" of the fiction that contradicts my own sense of "fact." It could be I am reading in and responding to a genre that is not among my preferred ones. What is a five for me? Likely anything by Toni Morrison, Jose Saramago, Louise Erdrich, Marilynne Robinson, Sherman Alexie. A book not only well written but precisely (invisibly) edited. A book I keep thinking about, because I can’t stop thinking about it. Either four or five stars means I found a book well worth my time and think you might, too.

Mary Ann
April 21, 2017

5.0 out of 5 stars Must read

I loved it!!!!!

E. B.
February 28, 2017

5.0 out of 5 stars Cowboys and Sheepherders, Moonshiners, and Murder: a good read.

When Lulu meets Nellie for the first time and along with noting that the young woman is pretty, in a town sort of way, also notes she wears pants. Not unusual of course in this day and age, but something one tended to notice in 1923. I knew then that Nellie Burns was no shrinking violet. Also, when Lulu said she stood straight as any soldier, I knew this was a woman who would pursue her aspirations with a single-minded focus and, which, as the reader will soon discover, gets her into a pile of trouble. Among cowboys, sheepherders, and moonshiners she goes her own way, discovers a dead body, is kidnapped, and helped by Pearl, who works in the saloon and is an individual in her own right. And so, Nellie unravels a mystery and gains success with her photos, and maybe a bit more than just admiration from the local sheriff. I lived in Northern Idaho for some years and enjoyed being able to see that beautiful place through the eyes of the characters as I lived, for a while, through them. Once at age 14, I tent camped with family along the beautiful Salmon River and the next morning woke to a hundred or more sheep streaming through our camp, parting as they reached our tent, the herd flowing like a river around us. Enjoyed the story. I’ve read Weston’s The Good Times are all Gone now, about growing up in the mining town of Kellogg, Idaho and also recommend that non-fiction story to readers.

Harlan Hague
February 23, 2017

5.0 out of 5 stars Nellie Burns is at it again

Nellie Burns is poking her nose into other people’s business again and has gotten herself into a passel of trouble. Set in Idaho’s Stanley Basin, with the awesome Sawtooth Mountains as backdrop. Nell, a professional photographer, came to the valley to take pictures for a railroad promotion. She had not counted on becoming embroiled in conflict between cattlemen and sheep men, nor, in the turmoil, getting herself arrested for murder. This is a mystery full of suspense that is not unraveled until the final pages. Well, not completely unraveled. I smell a sequel. A good read.

J Benezet
January 2, 2017

5.0 out of 5 stars Great read on the Western Frontier

Basque Moon adeptly describes a time and place that had me entering the story as if I were living in it. While it took a little while to get to the main plot, once I arrived there, the background information on the Idaho physical and human landscape of the early 1900’s made the story quite engaging. Weston has written a well textured tale of an aspiring young photographer who with single minded focus on her emerging career could not help herself from taking many risks others, particularly women, would likely have not taken. The mystery that unfolds moves along with twists and turns that satisfy. I highly recommend this book.

John Calvert
November 15, 2016

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars

a wonderful story – soooo well written.

5.0 out of 5 stars An Absorbing Read Featuring a Fascinating Woman

Idaho author Julie Weston is back with another gripping page-turner in Basque Moon, her second Nellie Burns and Moonshine mystery. As with her first, the widely-praised Moonshadows, Basque Moon features a strong female character who may be naive about sticking her nose into places it doesn’t belong, but is fearless (if stubborn); plus a challenging and realistic puzzle that sends the heroine on a transformative journey, a story that tackles difficult issues, and a setting so vivid it becomes a character. In Basque Moon, Nell, who is still struggling to make a living with her photography, jumps at the chance to visit the remote Stanley Basin with sheep rancher Gynn Campbell and his Basque shepherd Alphonso in order to shoot photos for the railroad’s tourist brochures. The drive on the narrow, switchbacking road over Galena Pass is dangerous, and Gynn’s continual cursing at his aged pickup threatens to turn the air blue, but the scenery is more than worth the trip: "She gasped at the open vista far below. Jagged blue teeth tore at the sky—the Sawtooth Mountains. Most of the high peaks wore snow patches leading down to rocky chutes that ended in deep green forests, which in turn gave out onto a basin of lush grasses and a river, winding like a silver thread the length of the valley." Not that Basque Moon is all about the scenery. When Nell and Moonshine arrive dusty and road-bounced at the sheep camp with Campbell and Alphonso, they find the sheep scattered, the herder dead in the sheep wagon—with a bullet hole in his temple, and the dogs gone. Nell opts to stay at the camp anyway, bent on photographing the scenery, the sheep, and the dudes on a pack trip she meets. Before too long though, she is thrust into a range war between the sheepmen and the cattlemen, and then kidnapped and nearly killed. She finds an unlikely alley in Pearl, the dance-hall girl and wife of the cattle rancher whose men Nell is sure are behind the violence. Nell’s outrage at the lawlessness of the cattlemen sends her on the trail of their mysterious boss, and eventually leads her to discover a large moonshine operation, where she is almost kidnapped again and then arrested by the revenuers who come to bust up the lucrative liquor-making ring. Perhaps worst though is the reaction of her friend, Sheriff Charlie Asteguigoiri, called Azgo by the locals, when he discovers her at the moonshiner’s camp: "How is your arm, Miss Burns?" He stopped in front of Nell. "I thought we were on first-name terms, Sheriff. My arm is better, but I need to cut the stitches." She didn’t look up at him, but just stared across at the gun in his belt. He was not a tall man, and he seemed now as cold as the gun metal. Will Charlie forgive Nell for "so blithely" walking into danger "again and again"? Will Nell, "a mere female," ever gain the local’s respect and make a living with her photography? Will she and Charlie find who is responsible for the violence? And will the two of them find a way to bridge the cultural and class gap that divides them, he a Basque man from a poor rural background, and she an educated white woman from the city? The issues that make Basque Moon an absorbing story—racism, class warfare, women’s rights—are at once characteristic of the period, the Roaring Twenties, and startlingly contemporary. Nellie, Azgo, and the other characters are complex and interesting people facing real-life situations, people readers will want to follow through book after book. by Susan J. Tweit for Story Circle Book Reviews reviewing books by, for, and about women

Susan L. Countner
October 2, 2016

5.0 out of 5 stars excellent descriptions of people

Vivid, excellent descriptions of people, Idaho location and mystery. An excellent and exciting book!!!

Ed DeSeve
September 5, 2016


Warning! Do not start reading Basque Moon before bed time. (You will never get to sleep!) Weston plays your emotions like a tuning fork struck with metal objects such as knives, guns and a gold ring with a pearl and emeralds. The new characters (A kind hearted store keeper with her cap set for . . . , Pearl the two faced tart, the eponymous Wolfman Pitts, a host of ne’er do well cowboys cum moonshiners, a sheepherder/medicine man, and an oleaginous cattle baron) interact dramatically with the our old friends (the handsome Basque sheriff, the sheep rancher, Nellie Burns the intrepid photog and Moonshine the wonder dog.) to produce a thriller and mystery that is incomparable (Except with Moon Shadows). I am informed by a source close to the author that a third Nellie Burns book is underway. Can’t wait. Ed DeSeve

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