Beginning June 1, through June 21, I’ll be sharing a recommended read by an indigenous author each day on Twitter. Today, here, a bonus to celebrate: thoughts on the latest Thomas King mystery set in Chinook. On June 1st, June 7th and June 21st, check back for more recent indigenous reading.
So much has changed in Chinook since readers last spent time with Thumps. The new café, for instance: Mirrors (named for Eduardo Galeano’s work, complete with references to Memory of Fire, Upside Down and The Book of Embraces). And, get this: Thumps is involved in the production of a reality television program.
Okay, that’s about it for new things. Which is just as it should be. Neither Thumps, nor the series’ readers who have already enjoyed the previous three volumes, are looking for a whole lot of different. (Thoughts on the earlier books in the series are here.)
Readers return to Chinook, like Thumps to the diner with the best breakfast (and you KNOW it’s not Mirrors), because we know it’s going to be good, just as it is.
We want to return to Archie’s bookstore in the old Carnegie library that he rescued from the developers to house “the best bookstore in the real west”.
We want to know what’s on Thumps’ to-do list before he reviews it in his mind. “If Thumps had bothered making a to-do list, it would not have included working for a reality television program.” And: “He ran through his to-do list once again. Car, cat, Claire.”
We do want Thumps to solve the mystery, but we also want him to figure out where Freeway has gotten to, and we want to see him rearranging his bookshelves more than we want to see shots fired in the streets of Chinook.
“Thumps spent the next hour organizing his books. They had gotten out of order. Walter Mosley had wound up next to Eden Robinson, Richard Wagamese had slipped in between Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood. He debated rearranging the volumes by genre or by topic or even gender and race, and nationality, even though he understood that all of these categories were social constructions, all of them precarious at best. Some more dangerous than others.
In the end, he settled for the alphabetical solution.”
Thomas King’s mysteries are an alphabetical solution: A is for Addictive, B is for Believable, and C is for Chill. Along the way, he makes some sharp points, but it’s like they’re piercing through a cozy afghan: you can feel it, but it doesn’t hurt.