Florio’s second novel mines familiar ground with another look at American Indian culture along the frozen U.S.-Canadian border territory, with a compelling mystery folded in to add spice to the mix.
Lola Wicks, a veteran big-city reporter who came to Montana to see an old friend, ended up staying and solving her friend’s murder. Now, she’s involved with the sheriff, who is part American Indian, and working for the local paper, something Lola’s not sure she wants or likes. For someone used to covering the war in Afghanistan, Magpie, Mont., is a bit claustrophobic. But then a beautiful member of the Blackfeet Nation, a young girl named Judith, turns up frozen to death in a snowbank, and Lola’s reporting instincts start pinging. When she discovers that a number of young Native American girls from the area have disappeared, she talks her boss at the paper into letting her follow a story that will take her to the Patch, a thrown-together shanty town in North Dakota. Men from all over the country have traveled to find jobs working in the oil fields that surround the makeshift settlement. And that’s where Lola and her three-legged border collie, Bub, discover a web of crime, including prostitution, and a town where anything, including murder, goes. Again, Florio chooses interesting settings for her action and infuses her story with plenty of atmosphere and character. A longtime reporter, she has a good eye for weaving Native American culture into her tales, and this one is no exception. She also imbues Lola with believability, although the character often fails to display the common sense that purportedly kept her alive when she was stationed in Kabul. Despite Lola’s rash tendency to engage in risky behavior when acting as an amateur sleuth, the writing is top-notch, and the action builds at just the right pace.
In Florio’s capable hands, Lola Wicks is going to be around for a long, long time.