Published by Lane Stark
Released in 2011
EBook, 356 Pages
Two gruesome murders have shocked and divided the community of Bella Coola, a small, isolated village in a remote river valley on the coast of British Columbia. The evidence points to a teenaged Nuxalk boy, and the simmering tension between whites and tribe members heats up. RCMP Inspector Marcus Chao must sort through misleading clues, cultural conflicts, tangled relationships, sexual scandals, and even rumors of sorcery to find the truth.
Marcus is a man whose life has skidded into remorse and misery. His own infidelity has ended his marriage to the woman he still loves, and now he finds himself with only two things to keep his sinking spirits afloat: the need to serve justice and his eternal fascination with solving the puzzle of the crime. This latest puzzle, however, is proving to be a maze of intrigue, and his mettle as well as his principles will be tested.
Lane Stark proves to be good mystery writer. I really enjoyed the story, characters, and her writing style. Ms. Stark is able to keep the reader engaged in the mystery. The plot was not overly complicated but it had enough suspense to keep you guessing the who’s and the why’s.
There are several really good characters in this book. In the beginning, I was really confused because I had a difficult time figuring out who was the main character. Marcus Chao doesn’t really come into the story full-time until about halfway through the book. However, once he is involved, the story revolves around him trying to solve the murders. In my opinion, the two characters are Daniel and Claire, the two teenaged Nuxalk tribe members who are accused of the committing the murders. I thought that Ms. Stark conveyed really well the desolation that both kids felt by living with their abusive family in Bella Coola.
Ms. Stark painted a very vivid picture of Bella Coola. She wrote,
“On all sides the sheer granite faces of the Coast Mountains rose three thousand feet into the cerulean sky. White glacial ice streaked the dark gray summits.”
Throughout the book, Marcus and others feel the claustrophobia of the tiny town.
The Nuxalk culture plays a large role in this story. Shamans and sorcerers still have enough power in the tribe to command fear and respect within the Bella Coola community. Qama, Claire’s great-grandmother, is one of those that commands that fear. She is truly a scary and evil person and a pivotal character in the story. The descriptions of the different mannerisms and rules of communication helped provide a good picture of the tribe. There, also, deep culture conflicts within Bella Coola. The tension is always right on the surface and these murders almost took the town to great violence.
Overall, I really liked this book. The only reason I rated it three and a half stars was my confusion of the main character. I never really felt that he was fully established as the main character. Otherwise, I thought it was intriguing and a good murder mystery.
“It was the hour of prowling bears, circling night owls, vengeful spirits,
and savage hearts. It was the hour of predators.”
Rating: Three and a half out of Five Stars.