Thumps Dreadfulwater. That’s his Indian name. No, wait, that’s his actual name. Which is when you know that you are not, actually, in Chinook, where Thumps Dreadfulwater solves cases. You are in Thomas King country.
Readers of King’s An Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America will not be surprised at the wit and tone of these novels: both King’s fiction and non-fiction can be equal parts gritty and entertaining, painful and hilarious.
The first two volumes in the Dreadfulwater series, originally published in 2002 and 2006, were republished last year in trade paperback volumes, in anticipation of the third volume, Cold Skies, newly published.
The mysteries are not as sharply funny as some of King’s other writing; readers are more likely to issue low-grade chuckles and snorty smirks than to burst out in loud laughter. But, throughout, there is a sense of needing to find another way to look at things – with a less-heavy heart – so that the injustices and disappointments which proliferate in the world do not overwhelm.
In each of the three mysteries, there is a concern which stretches both into the past and into the future, often with a political and/or environmental element to the events which unfold, which will impact key relationships in the community. (It’s unsurprising that The Back of the Turtle was published after the first two Thumps’ mysteries.)