Sunday, June 20, 2010

Deep Creek, A Novel by Dan Hand

I should be finishing off the thirty sock creatures, but I found a book at the library that looked interesting.  I was browsing the shelves to find books for my 93-year old mother which is not an easy task.  Her interests have become more and more limited.  They're down to modern day romances set on ranches--only ranches.

Instead I found Deep Creek by Dan Hand.  What a great book!  I didn't want it to end.  It is historical fiction set in the Idaho-Oregon area from 1886 through 1892.  The story is built around an actual event, the murder of thirty Chinese miners.  Using the racism of the period, Indian land grabs, excessive power of publishers and land barons, along with the ensuing social intrigue, Hand develops a well-balanced and fascinating look at a period in our history that is too often overlooked.

The characters are solidly constructed and fascinating.  This alone would make it a great book club selection.  Nature vs. nurture theories of human development are tested throughout.  Yet, Hand also looks at how a single event can override all.  One wrong choice might leave damage capable of destroying one's life and affecting future generations. 

My one complaint is that in a few places (very few) the book does not move from one scene to the next well.  In some cases, I felt disoriented before realizing that this new paragraph had moved on to another subject.  These few changes within chapters felt like places where a new chapter should have begun.  Hand's chapters, however, move back and forth in time from the  murders in 1886 to the attempts to solve the crimes and bring the murderers to justice.  The places that I found problematic would not fit with that.

All in all, it was a great read that I heartily recommend.

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