About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shaman Pass by Stan Jones

42. – 555.) Shaman Pass by Stan Jones – Alaska State trooper, Nathan Active, is called out to a shee fishing hole where Victor Solomon has been killed by a harpoon. The harpoon, an amulet and the body of an Inupiat man (brilliantly named “Uncle Frosty” by Jones) had just been returned to the village by the Smithsonian after being in Washington for over 80 years. There had been sharp disagreement between the Inupiat “establishment” and one or more local activists over whether the body should be put on display at the local museum. (It is not hard to determine the author’s sympathies.) An outspoken protester, Calvin Maiyumerak, is a suspect in the theft and therefore the murder. As Active probes he is drawn back into Inupiat history before white people came to the northwest slope of Alaska. It was a grim time where the culture was dominated by shamans who enforced many taboos. Active contacts his biological mother and grandfather for information about that era. Vivid stories are told him. The past becomes ever more intertwined with the present as Active searches for the killer. Seeking more information Active takes a trip to a whaling camp on the edge of the shore ice. Every action outside must consider and respect the weather. Even short trips can be journeys in a land without roads. Landscape and climate play a far greater role in the story than the average mystery. The Active series is far far away from the English country home mystery. Internally, Active’s dream life has been troubling him. An elder does her best to help him understand. I thought of the importance of dreams and the world of spirits in the lives of my Cree clients. The spirit world is alive to Aboriginal people wherever they reside in North America. The importance of humour in indigenous life is constantly present in the book. Jones evokes the playful exchanges between indigenous people – not quite teasing, not really needling, on the edge of sarcastic, occasionally biting, always entertaining. He skillfully uses the country and its people’s history to enhance the mystery. A mystery becomes special when the story and solution are unique to its setting. The mystery unfolds smoothly and Active’s character is becoming ever more real. (Oct. 24/10) (Tied for third best fiction of 2010). The author's website is http://www.sjbooks.com/

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