An Upper Peninsula deputy juggles a handful of small-town cases and unravels a modest mystery.
In the seven years Native American Steve (Two Crow) Martinez has been a deputy in remote Porcupine County, Michigan, he hasn’t used his gun except to finish off a wounded animal. His most serious cases involve disorderly drunks and ravenous but not dangerous bears. At first the death of local bigwig Paul Passoja seems to be a sad but unsuspicious case. The elderly Passoja, weakened by Alzheimer’s, was mauled by a bear, triggering a fatal heart attack. As Steve goes about everyday duties with inexpressive fellow deputy Mary Larch, however, a wide swath of bacon grease at the crime scene nags him, and other small clues lead him to suspect foul play. He begins a casual investigation that ruffles some local feathers and makes him a target. Although Steve realizes he’s on the right track, a dangerous investigation is the last thing he wants. He resettled in the Upper Peninsula for its peace and natural beauty and, after a long sexual drought, is advancing steadily into a romantic relationship with comely widow Ginny Fitzgerald. Their courtship counterpoints the mystery, whose solution involves tortured animals, marital infidelity, and long-forgotten business chicanery.
Kisor (Flight of the Gin Fizz, 1997, etc.) effectively evokes his setting and the attractive pace of life there, though sometimes at the expense of tension in his plot.