Merrimon Book Reviews

From Merrimon Book Reviews
Sand Creek
Sand Creek by D. W. Linden
D. W. Linden
A great Coloradan mystery and so much more

Publisher:  Intrigue Press (August 2006)
D.W. Linden's SAND CREEK is a mystery set in southeastern Colorado with an unlikely sleuth, a broken down cowboy, hunting down Native American history to unearth a serial killer and save his friend from murder allegations. SAND CREEK is a mystery with an intriguing romance subplot.

Ex-rodeo man and now laid back sheriff Johnny Hart's life is fairly much lost down the bottle. He hasn't been to a rodeo in a while, his wife has left him and his superiors are always warning him. He is even finding it difficult to track down the cattle rustlers. It could not get much worse, but of course, it does. His friend and rodeo buddy Char Sixkiller has been pegged by the FBI as the serial killer mutilating blond white women and dumping them on historic sites of Native American massacres. Can broken down cowboy Johnny save himself, his friend and Sandy?

SAND CREEK focuses mostly on the friendship between two men and the hunt for a killer.  Johnny and Char have a long history from their rodeo past. Both are broken cowboys from past scars but loyal friends. In searching for the identity of the serial killer, Johnny and Char must face their past and rely on their friendship. Can the present hunt also heal their past and teach them how to forgive?

Although the mystery focuses on the friendship between Char and Johnny, two important women in this mystery make SAND CREEK a 5 star+ read and more than a mystery. Barbara, Johnny's ex-wife, is a divorcee with a career and independent. Sandy Cross is an independent unmarried woman, running her cattle ranch mostly alone since Mr. Cross is just too old. She is a Christian but she is spending a lot of time with a man with different spiritual beliefs and a Native American when Native Americans are seen with suspicion in this part of the country. Will she calmly break the law when push comes to shove? Sometimes a girl has to do what she has to do! Sandy is blond and smart and breaks all stereotypes. When the going gets tough, she doesn't reach for the hair dye or the comfort of the big city.  Sandy in this book can be described with one word --- fortitude. She may seem preachy for one small moment or two but circumstances have to mellow out her fortitude and make it less rigid. The Christian element is balanced by the Native American massacre reality and the character of Char who also sees more than beyond his viewpoint. Actually, all the characters in this novel are written without rigid good and evil traits.

SAND CREEK draws the reader into into the author's description of Southeastern Colorado which is quite different than the Front Range Denver Metro area where I live. A slightly melancholic tone in the beginning was a nice reading change from other mystery reads this year. I also liked hearing about the history of the Native Americans and the massacres which are often spoken about in local papers but never explained to newcomers. SAND CREEK has some nice twists and turns mystery-wise. The first third of this book is more about the rodeo life, the area, and the building of the friendship between Johnny and Char and the life of Sandy. I was drawn into the place and liked that immersion feeling before the mystery pace wound tighter and tighter.

SAND CREEK is not a romance per se but readers will enjoy its multi-faceted take on love: friendship, love and understanding that divorced people might still have, love emerging, the love of a father for a child, a Christian understanding of love, a Native American approach to spirituality and love/friendship. SAND CREEK offers an intriguing insight into history and the massacres. A very nice read --- a mystery but also a book with an expansive view to remember and ponder long after finishing the last page.

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews

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