Monday, February 1, 2010

Deep Creek by Dana Hand (review)

Title: Deep Creek
Author: Dana Hand
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 320
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Han
ISBN: 0547237480
Kindle Cost: $0.45 (due to NetGalley emailing the PDF to my Kindle email account)

First off, the name Dana Hand is a nom de plume (pen name) for Will Howarth and Anne Matthews. So be prepared for a novel that jumps around a bit in style.

Which brings me to my second point. The plot was not at all what I expected. I knew ahead of time that the basic story was based on real events (the murders of several Chinese in the Idaho/Oregon border area by some unsavory rustlers). What I expected was the story to follow the murders, the investigation, then the trial of the accused.

And that's mostly what I got, but there's a lot of side plots that follow the characters on their progress through life. While this helped me connect with the characters, it didn't help the story much. In fact, only the first half or so of the book was interesting enough to get hooked. Once the lead character, law man Joe Vincent, "solved" the case, the plot took a bit of a nose-dive by jumping around between characters and sub-lots.

With that said, I still enjoyed the story. It wasn't the best story, but I think part of that was my expectation going in. It wasn't the historical murder-mystery I wanted, instead it was a story about Joe Vincent and one particular investigation (and those involved). The various cuts to other characters was a nice change of pace, but at times I was a little lost when the names mentioned didn't ring any bells.

In the end, despite my mixed feelings, I'm still glad I was able to read about this little known moment in history. I got a good visualization of the scenery and the people that lived there. I'm also glad I was able to read it for free (or nearly free) and really appreciate the people at NetGalley for the wonderful services they provide (and to the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for allowing the galley on Kindle).

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