Review of Bears With Us
One would think, wouldn't one, that, in a community named Bear Creek, seeing a bear--big, hairy, scary, growly, HUNGRY!--wouldn't be too much of a surprise? Well, maybe it would be today. At least some city-fied move-ins would be surprised. After all, I know a retirement community named Indian Village that hasn't seen an Indian in the forty years of its existence, or at least not a recognizable one. So, one might assume the bears of Bear Creek were gone long ago. Hmmm?
Which brings me to Deputy Sheriff Tempe Crabtree, her working area in Bear Creek, California, and the novel by Marilyn Meredith, BEARS WITH US.
I always await new installments in this series eagerly. Since I have read the entire Tempe Crabtree series (and own copies of all) I know Tempe, her family, friends, and co-workers well. I know the area where she lives, the nearby Indian Reservation, the restaurants and businesses around the community. I could do a drawing of how I picture her home, the inn where she and her husband, Pastor Hutch often eat, and even the mountains not far away. Others may not see these places as I do, but they are almost as real to me as places I can visit by driving there. I enjoy my trips to visit Tempe and Hutch more than I enjoy visiting a few real places I frequent. (The grocery store? The office supply? The DENTIST?) After all, when going to Bear Creek, I have the added attraction of entertaining and scary adventures, crimes, and puzzles to solve, not to mention the happy experience of spending time with "real" people I now know well and like.
There are many puzzles and even many crimes in this story, more than the ordinary number I would say. There's the secretive and unfriendly family who's son has just committed suicide, an apple grower who may or may not be what he seems, and an intelligent and kind Mexican father who is raising a similarly upstanding, kind, and intelligent son, but faces virulent prejudice among the community's "upper crust." Then there's the family attempting to protect and shelter a mother dropping into increasingly dark dementia--causing distress for the distracted and secretive father and the practical-minded daughter, plus aggressive and threatening action by an adult son. In addition there are new retiree residents, some kind and friendly, others aloof and snooty. (I could have said snotty, but I want to keep this dignified.)
What a mix of humanity. Stir into this real bears who, starved out of normal food locations, now seek dinner among trash cans and backyard barbecues--even a few refrigerators behind unlocked doors--in the community. (One of them is especially fond of Rocky Road ice cream.) Ordinarily they aren't really happy moving in among humans, but, just get between a starving bear and a food source, well, watch out! But, will they kill a live human? Or . . . ?
Talk about the cliched term, "page turner!" I kept saying, "Radine, it's time to turn out the light and go to sleep, lot's to do tomorrow." And then I turned the page and began the next chapter.
See how many of the crimes and problems you can solve before answers are revealed within the story. My batting average? 0. I had suspicions, no answers. The reason for the main murder is especially puzzling.
Loved this novel. Bet you will, too.
Radine Trees Nehring
Radine Trees Nehring, 2011 Inductee: Arkansas Writers' Hall of FameTake the train to murder in JOURNEY TO DIE FOR, 2010 Silver Falchion winner