February 26, 2014

People of the Mist by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

This book definitely diverged from the usual format of the First North American series.  It was a murder mystery.  And I'm not quite sure that it worked with the rest of the series, although technically you could read it as a stand alone. 

Red Knot is set to marry Copper Thunder, the leader of another tribe, but she yearns for another.  So when she is found dead there are many suspects, among them her lover.  But a young girl, Sun Conch believes he is innocent and convinces the local "witch" to help her find out who the true murderer.  But he faces opposition around every corner and there are a few people who'd like to see him dead as well.

Sun Conch is very much an idealist.  She believes the best in people and Panther especially comments on this fact quite often.  But she's also strong and willing to do whatever it takes to have her wishes done.  She makes a good partner for Panther in that way as he isn't above using people for what he needs.  He seemed like an old man who wanted a puzzle, and despite his protests, one who didn't want to live the life of a hermit anymore.  All the other characters were kind of flighty and it was hard to tell their motivations well.  Sure, they were supposed to be mysterious as one of them was the murderer, but they had temperaments that changed with the wind. 

I wasn't into the murder mystery.  I don't go much for mysteries to begin with, so that might have been part of the problem.  But it just didn't follow the normal format of this series and honestly, aside from a few facts of how they lived, it probably could have been a plot set in modern time with everyone wondering who murdered the girl.  However, it was more clearly written and had better dialogue than some of the other books.  In fact, the style was so different I wondered if the Gears had written it at all.  Usually their books meander, but this one had a clear purpose.

I can only hope that this tone of writing is used going forward in the books, but maybe without the mystery element.  It's a decent enough series if one likes prehistoric fiction.

People of the Mist
Copyright 1997
553 pages

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