Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Radine Trees Nehring's Review of Dispel the Mist

Radine wrote probably the most thoughtful review of Dispel the Mist I'll ever receive. Here it is:

How much of each writer can be found in his or her works of fiction?
Where is the author in what she created?

I can easily picture a perhaps younger Sara Paretsky playing the part of V. I. Warshawski in a movie or stage play.
Same with Sue Grafton and Kinsey Milhone
Randy Rawls as Ace Edwards? Definitely...and hundreds more examples like these in fiction.
The novels aren't autobiographical, but the authors are so THERE they could even step into a stage role as the book's protagonist, physically as well as in life motive and inspiration! (At least I see them that way.)

On the other hand, what about books like Betty Webb's Lena Jones series? No. Betty is not Lena. Or...could she really be there, somewhere inside Lena...?

And, what about Marilyn Meredith and Tempe Crabtree? Another no. No comparison. But....

In the latest Tempe Crabtree mystery, DISPEL THE MIST, Deputy Sheriff Tempe is drawn into troubles based largely in the Bear Creek Reservation where a half of her own roots lie. As this series has progressed, Tempe has learned more and more about the legends and life coming from the American Indian part of her heritage, and, in this novel, she steps more fully into those legends and into an understanding of Native American spirituality.

Another "half-breed," Lilia Quintera, the first female to be elected a Tulare County Supervisor dies, and outwardly the death appears to be the result of a heart attack. Quintera has supported the licensing of a group home for developmentally disabled adults that is strongly opposed by the only outwardly obvious bad guy in the novel. (Quintera's own Down Syndrome niece, Suzy, is to be a resident of the home, and Suzy was a witness to her aunt's death.) Besides that, the supervisor still hasn't said how she will vote on the issue of whether or not to allow construction of a large hotel and restaurant near the new reservation casino. To complicate matters still more, Quintera's marriage and her relationship with her younger sister are both deeply troubled, and she's stepped on some powerful feet in her work as supervisor. It's a recipe for murder, but there is no evidence of murder, and won't be unless a tox screen comes back showing poison in her system. However, in the mind of an old nemesis of Tempe's, Detective Morrison, it probably was murder. He has, in the past, belittled Deputy Crabtree's work as a law officer. (It's the old "Tempe can go get us coffee," thing.) This time, however, Morrison displays grudging respect for Tempe's abilities as a detective with connections to the reservation. He asks her boss that she be transferred to work with him on learning who had motives to kill Lilia Quintera.

Tempe, supported this time by her pastor husband, Hutch, begins to work her way through complicated relationships that create a mist around Lilia Quintera's life in the Bear River area. In the past Hutch has been deeply troubled by what he has seen as a conflict between his Christian faith and the American Indian spirituality Tempe has been learning more about. But now both she and Hutch do not discount growing evidence of something behind what an overly materialistic culture can accept, no matter what the source. Hutch might call a manifestation evidence of the presence of angels, while Tempe thinks of the same things as evidence of beneficent spirits, but in the end the result is the same, and they have come to understand each other.

The relationships in this novel, whether between Hutch and Tempe and her Native American mentors, or between Supervisor Quintera and all the people she dealt with, form a fascinating plot. As Tempe works her way through the mist, talking to people, probing, I read faster and faster, wanting to see--as of course she does--who could be a source of the darkness and evil she is uncovering, and if she will survive a deadly attempt on her life that takes place at the mystic Painted Rock, deep in the reservation.

At night. In a heavy thunderstorm. WHAT has the power to help her? The Hairy Man?

Absolutely fascinating. Enlightening. Entertaining. Treat yourself and read it.

Now back to "How can Marilyn Meredith be Tempe?" Well, they're both women. Both caring, loving, intelligent, with inquiring minds. Yes. And, for a time Marilyn and her husband Hap operated a group home for developmentally disabled adults. I know that the thoughts, actions, and conversation of Suzy's are accurately written, and knowing this added much to the story, as well as to my own understanding of people with Down Syndrome. Not only that, the wealth of Marilyn's other life experiences add reality, believability, excitement, and warmth.

So, is Marilyn Meredith in this novel and in Tempe? You betcha!


Radine Trees Nehring
http://www.RadinesBooks.com
Blog for readers and writers: http://radine.wordpress.com
The "To Die For" mystery series...touring the Ozarks, one crime at a time.

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