The Red Power Murders is a good mix of procedural and cozy with just enough humor to make Thumps DreadfulWater an endearing sleuth. This cozy is by Native Canadian writer Thomas King under a pseudonym.

It would be easy to run out of superlatives when talking about the tight, sparse and intense prose that comprise one of the most enjoyable mysteries I have read in a long time. Like Thumps DreadfulWater the novels is characterized by a dry wit and keen policeman’s / photographer’s eye for detail. That’s not to say that nothing escapes Thumps, but when it does escape him you can be forgiven for not seeing it as well.

The story centers around Noah Ridge, the Red Power Native activist on a book tour which is passing through Thumps’ hometown of Chinook. Coincidentally a retired FBI agent turns up dead at the local Holiday Inn. The sheriff, the FBI and Thumps DreadfulWater don’t believe in coincidence though a fact which propels Thumps from photographer to reluctant deputy on the case.

There are times when reading The Red Power Murders when it would have been nice for there to have been a little more exposition. When we encounter the character of Cooley the very short description of the man can leave you with the impression that he is either of enormous girth or fantastic musculature. There are a few places like that in the novel when you are not 100% certain of what something or someone looks like mostly as a result of the author’s economy with the language. These are only minor issues and soon get sorted out. That same economy of language though gives The Red Power Murders a voice as unique as the character of Thumps DreadfulWater. It is easy to wonder if the economy of lifestyle and vocabulary employed by Thumps is derived from the landscape he so clearly loves to photograph.

The Red Power Murders
Thomas King writing as Hartley Goodweather
Harper Collins

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