Deep Creek
Dana Hand
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Buy *Deep Creek* by Dana Hand online

Deep Creek
Dana Hand
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
320 pages
February 2010
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Deep Creek is the riveting retelling of an actual event - the massacre of over thirty Chinese miners in the Idaho territory in 1887. Against the pristine beauty of the mountains, the bodies are slain with a vengeance, mutilated, tortured, violated. At the best of times, such an event would be grist for journalists, but the heinous murders are committed far from civilization, the victims of another race.

The country is in the throes of anti-immigrant sentiment, a situation that leads to extreme behavior against the immigrants, especially the Chinese workers, one newspaper acting as an apologist for bigotry. But when ex-marshal and current police judge Joe Vincentís daughter, Nell, hooks an arm while fishing in the Snake River, Joe becomes deeply involved in an investigation that will lead him to the very heart of depravity, a man with a silver tongue and the eyes of a wolf: ďSometimes it seemed the war had taken a breather, then sent all its unfinished business west and north.Ē

Writing as Dana Hand, the team of Will Howarth and Anne Matthews has constructed a tale of murder and the broad injustice of racial politics. As Joe Vincent travels upriver with a part-Indian guide, Grace Sundown, and a representative of the corporation that employed the miners, Lee Loi, hoping to discover more clues at the crime scene, this unlikely crew finds a deadly threat and a link to the murders that puts them all in grave danger.

By the time the murderers are brought to trial, Vincent pays a heavy price for his conscientiousness but refuses to betray the victims or discontinue his investigation, regardless of the threats against himself, his family and supporters. Wilderness justice is flawed, white men against yellow no contest in a trail that makes a mockery of the crimes. But once the story is told, the images are indelible, the cruelty of racially motivated torture and death, the greed of opportunists in a thriving frontier, and the brutality of those who take what they want with impunity.

Vincent is a man of integrity, Grace a brave woman who proves his equal in courage. And Lee Loi is an untested corporate employee who becomes a man through the rigors of the journey up the Snake River and the brutality he witnesses. Although Vincent and Grace have a history, they are willing to put it aside for the sake of the case. When Vincentís wife commits the ultimate act of betrayal, he is relived to be freed from a loveless marriage.

The authors never shirk from the bitter truth of the massacre, or the people behind the brutality. The setting is Godís country, but the site of the massacre, Hellís Canyon, is aptly named in a thriller that explores the best and the worst of men in a tale of remarkable courage.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2010

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