Another Terrific Review of Invisible Path

With no mental or physical demands on my time since my work at Ozark Folk Center finished a day early, I picked up my copy of Marilyn Meredith's new Tempe Crabtree novel, INVISIBLE PATH. If I am counting correctly, this is number nine in the series. I own and have read all of them, but staying with the story allowed me to live inside Tempe's life in a way I never have before.

I have learned to trust Meredith's insight into we how we humans tick, and her knowledge of American Indians and life on a reservation. In this novel she adds many today issues, including fear of "the other," and the clearest look inside a white supremacist para-military group I've ever had.

When the body of Danny Tofoya is found on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation near Tempe's home, an Indian "from away," Jesus Running Bear, is named as the killer by many living there. Detectives also believe Running Bear is the likely suspect, and Sheriff's Deputy Tempe Crabtree, who is half Native-American, is assigned to do research on the rez. In a parallel situation, when exploring for fun in the mountains near Bear Creek, Tempe, her husband Hutch, her son Blair, and Blair's visiting college roommate, discover the compound of a para-military group. Men at the compound, carrying guns, warn them away.

Tempe soon comes to believe in Running Bear's innocence, but danger escalates when friends of the dead man seek out the suspect to take care of justice in their own way. Tempe protects him, and insists that nothing has proven he is guilty. Proof in any direction is hard to find, partly because many people Tempe questions are either lying or hiding what they know. And, are the white supremacists in the mountains involved in the crime? Some clues suggest they may be. Another worry is that Blair and his friend are very interested in the case and are doing some investigating on their own. Meanwhile, Christmas is approaching, and when will Tempe find time to buy gifts and prepare for the holiday, let alone enjoy time off with her family?

Now I wish I could read all novels by authors who know how to build "real" characters in one sitting. Reading for hours, I was able to stay inside Tempe's life without distractions. The puzzle was fascinating, the interwoven pieces of plot well created, the social commentary compelling, and the mystery . . . well, what a mystery! During most of the novel's pages I was in the dark, unable to see through all angles to identify the killer, though I had my suspicions!

But I will say this. I WAS able to unravel the plot and clearly identify the killer at the same time Tempe did! I am glad, however, that I didn't actually face the dangers she experienced getting there, though I was firmly convinced she was really facing them.

(For readers familiar with the Indian legend of the Hairy Man from an earlier Tempe novel, you'll be glad to know he shows up again in this story. And a favorite character from earlier novels, Nick Two John, is very much in evidence.)


How many of you have noticed a difference in your depth of involvement in a story when you can read for a long period of time, rather than taking in a chapter or two between work and other demands?

I recommend this novel to all. Radine Tress Nehring


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