Category Archives: Native American

Book Review: Wabanaki Blues by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel – Magnificent YA Mystery

Wabanaki Blues

Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel

327 pages

Wabanaki BluesMona Lisa LaPierre is a complex teen. She is the daughter of a Native American mother, who has turned her back on tradition and her family. Mona’s father is older than her mother, is ignorant or oblivious to Mona’s needs, other than basic food and shelter.

The teen retreats into her music. She is a talented guitarist and blues singer, writing her own music, drawing from her own experiences. These experiences include hearing her dead grandmother’s voice advising her and seeing  a girl that was murdered years ago in her high school.

Mona is shipped up to New Hampshire to stay in a cabin with her grandfather, appropriately named Grumps while her parents go to an archaeological dig in Russia. Not only does she miss her high school graduation, but Grumps lives off the grid. No cell phone, no electricity, no Beetle (a guy she would love to spend more time with) and no one to talk to except Grumps. This is not how Mona planned to spend the summer after her high school graduation.

Things begin to look up for her when she meets Del, a guy her age. He plays in a band and asks her to jam with them, and surprisingly Grumps encourages them to hang out together.  When she discovers he is the son of the dead girl that has been urging her to bring her killer to justice, Mona becomes obsessed with the case. And she might just be falling for Del.

Danger lurks in the woods and in unlikely places that would normally be considered safe. Mona has angered people by uncovering long buried secrets. The deeper she digs the more help she needs from Grumps and her extended Native American family.

Zobel created one of the most memorable characters I’ve read about in a long time. Mona develops from a snarky teen to a mature young woman over the course of this novel – but she still has rough edges. She learns about herself while digging into her family’s history and culture.

This Young Adult Mystery was so much more than a “whodunit”. The mystery of the murder developed along with the characters, making Zobel’s novel fast paced and interesting. I loved the rich history and tradition that I learned along with Mona.  This is the first book in a trilogy, and I can’t wait to read the next two books.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blues, Book Review, Mystery, Native American, YA

Book Review: Risky Undertaking – Action Packed Mystery

Risky-Undertaking-Cover-178x276Risky Undertaking

By Mark de Castrique

249 pages

Barry Clayton wears two hats in his hometown of Gainesboro, North Carolina. He is a part-time sheriff’s deputy and a full-time undertaker. In Risky Undertaking his two professions are on a collision course that can’t be stopped.

At a friendly poker game, Barry hears of an expansion deal on the local cemetery owned by Mayor Whitlock. Whitlock has called in the press, already excited about the grand opening of the newly acquired land. Unfortunately, at the groundbreaking ceremony dirt isn’t the only thing found in the posthole digger’s claws – bits of pottery and what appear to be human remains are unearthed also. The land is close to the Cherokee Reservation and all digging must be stopped until they can determine if this was once a sacred burial site.

The hiccup in Whitlock’s plan could not have come at a worse time. The Cherokee are upset about the possibility of a new casino coming in owned by the Catawba tribe. There have been protests both for and against the Catawba Casino due to the amount of money the Cherokee may lose to the competition as well as the amount of money the contractors may lose from the casino not being built.

If that isn’t enough going on in the town, dead bodies start to pile up. First a prominent woman dies of natural causes, but then a body is found on her grave by unnatural causes. A Boston hit man is seen at the Cherokee casino and a young boy goes missing.

Can the boy be found before he dies or is killed? Why has someone stolen an artifact collection? Will Burin’ Barry end up in one of his own graves? Whew – it is hard to turn the pages fast enough to keep up with the action!

This is the sixth novel in this series. It reads very well as a standalone, there is just the right amount of back story to get a new reader up to speed, yet not too much as to bore readers of his previous novels. De Castrique also has another series which “explores the rich history of Asheville from Tomas Wolfe to Carl Sandburg” that sounds intriguing also.

I love the afterword which tells the reader the facts behind the novel. He explains there is a new casino coming in that will diminish the number of people visiting the Cherokee cultural centers as well as impact the much needed revenue to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. It saddens me to see what has happened to the native people in our country.

Even though the underlying cause and events are serious, this mystery is full of quips and smart dialog that make the reader smile and possibly chuckle out loud. Barry is an awful card player yet finds himself participating in several games. The Cherokee officer Barry is working with, Romero, calls the sheriff “Rooster” after Rooster Cogburn. It is a term of endearment, and amuses me – I think it will amuse you too.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Cherokee, Mystery, Native American, poisoned pen press