Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Forge (Tom Doherty)
Release Date: September 2002
ISBN: 0765304651
Format Reviewed: Hardback
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Genre: Historical Crime (1878 Kansas)
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:

Solomon Spring
By Michelle Black 

     Ten years on from the momentous events detailed in An Uncommon Enemy (also reviewed on this site) Eden Murdoch has been living with the Cheyenne shaman she loves, but he has recently died. Mourning him by the mystic Solomon Spring, she is horrified to find that this sacred site is to be turned into a tourist attraction, selling cure-all bottled water. Native Americans will not be allowed to visit this spa, and naturally Eden sees red and protests. The enemies she has made are increased when her former abusive husband Lawrence comes back looking for her, and is promptly found dead. With a custody battle raging over the teenage son she thought was dead fourteen years ago, and a nine-year old daughter who is being bullied at school for her "Indian" ways, things can only get worse when Eden is thrown into jail. But Brad Randall is in town with problems of his own, so maybe he can save her…

     Just like its precursor, this is another one of those mold-breaking books that I can imagine a reading group tackling with gusto. Eden and Brad make strong leads who have suffered much, but are all the tougher for it, and still have their humanity intact. Unlike An Uncommon Enemy, this is a whodunit, and this adds a new dimension to the tale and ought to bring it even wider appeal, especially as it is lacking any of the coziness many books in this genre display. Read it for its tactile portraits of Western life, gritty characters and a multifaceted plot. There is perhaps a tendency to delineate characters as either being good or bad, and a few more gray ones in between would have made a superior book even better. Heaven forbid that the third volume degenerates into one of those cozy husband-and-wife team whodunits; not that there aren't many fine examples of this type around, but the essential magic of this series is that it paints such an uncompromising picture of how life must have been in those times. Another one to read and savor for the treat that it is.

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