About Me

My photo
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, July 17, 2021

Obsidian by Thomas King

(23. - 1095.) Obsidian by Thomas King - There are many reasons to be depressed in Indian country. Thumps DreadfulWaters has one of the strongest. Six years ago his lover, Anna, and her daughter, Callie, had been murdered by a serial killer on the California coast.

Drawn to return, Thumps has made a pilgrimage from Chinook, Montana to Eureka, California but can bring himself no closer to the death site than a parking lot on the beach.

Thumps had been a deputy sheriff in Eureka at the time of the killings. While back in Eureka he is given boxes of evidence assembled by a former fellow officer who died falling off a ladder. Ron Peat had always believed Thumps would come back to the Obsidian murders. Each victim had a small piece of Obsidian in their mouth. While in California he learns Anna’s ex-husband, Raymond Oakes, who had been imprisoned for murder was released shortly before the deaths.

Reflecting on what to do, Thumps drives back to Chinook. His return home to Montana prompts a vigorous local reaction. Roxanne Heavy Runner leads a group of Indian women who want a page of questions answered by him. His doctor is concerned about his blood tests and wants to send him to a specialist in Helena. His on-again-off-again girlfriend, Chief Claire Merchant wants to know if he wants a committed relationship.. Sheriff Duke Hockney, diagnosed with prostate cancer, wants him to become Sheriff. Thumps wants to find Raymond Oakes.

A group of moviemakers meet with Thumps. They want to make a movie on the Obisidian Murders. They are willing to share information with Thumps in the hope he will pursue the investigation. Thumps hesitates to ally himself with movie people though he had previously participated in a reality T.V. series exploring unsolved murders.

As Thumps considers whether it is time to move on from Chinook, relationships get more complex and, in a fascinating twist, clues in the investigation come to Chinook. A piece of obsidian is left on the Chinook morgue table. Then a replica vintage Mustang painted Osidian black is stolen. And his former colleague from the Eureka Police Department, Leon Ranger, retires and drives his RV east to help Thumps.

King manages the difficult task of making credible information making its way from California to Montana for the California murders. I was at a point where the Chinook storyline was obscuring the murder investigation when I was grateful King returned focus to the mystery. Certainly the issues in Chinook have divided Thumps attention but it was time he concentrated on the investigation.

In decidedly politically incorrect language Leon Ranger, a black man, calls Thumps Tonto. He says Tonto was his boyhood hero.

As they reflect on the evidence with the aid of everyone in town some very interesting premises are advanced as to the killer.

The pace quickens as evidence falls into place.

As usual I had not figured out the killer. I have some mixed emotions over the ending. 

Obsidian is a much better mystery than DreadfulWater, the first in the series. I have not read the intervening books. King, a gifted writer, is now also a gifted mystery author. I expect to now go back to read earlier books in the series.

Obsidian was another good choice for the Crime Writers of Canada 2021 shortlist for Best Canadian Crime Novel.



  1. This does sound interesting, Bill. You raise an interesting point, too: what is the balance between getting on with the mystery at hand, and providing helpful background detail and sub-plots, etc... It's not easy to strike that balance. I do like character-driven mysteries, and this sounds like one of them.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Your word "balance" was well chosen. The best authors can integrate the mystery into the lives of the characters.