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DreadfulWater Shows Up by Hartley Goodweather (thoughts)

June 21, 2011

This is the first, and so far only, mystery novel of Thomas King, one of my favourite novelists. It’s written under quite a fun pseudonym, Hartley Goodweather, and features Cherokee Thump DreadfulWater, a former cop now turned photographer a small town on the west side of the Rockies. The small town, Chinook, is full of fun characters, both Native American and white, and King plays off of stereotypes and cliches in a delicious way (eta: in case I wasn’t clear, King himself is Native American, so the stereotype stuff is tongue-in-cheek and done for deliberate effect). The fun part is that he’s playing with both the genre tropes and the racial ones, with some gender stuff as the cherry on top! The whole plot has a tongue-in-cheek feel to it (particularly the ending), as Thump gets dragged in to investigating against his will thanks to Claire Merchant, a strong woman with whom he enjoys a kind of relationship. At the same time that King is playing with all of this gentle irony, he brings in what I’ve adored about his other two novels: a delicate and spot-on description of human relationships. Even while Thump and the rest of Chinook’s citizens have playful characteristics, the way that they all interact is pitch perfect. I think that element of realism is what balances the whole novel; King is a masterful writer and a masterful storyteller, and DreadfulWater Shows Up shows that to the fullest. I just hope he plans to continue Thump’s adventures into a series!

Suggested Companion Reads (linked to my thoughts)


16 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2011 7:12 am

    Wow, I love the companion list. I still haven’t read Orlando but it’s on my summer list. Thanks for this!

  2. June 21, 2011 7:39 am

    I’ve only read Truth and Bright Water, he’s not well represented over here which is a shame

    • June 21, 2011 11:04 am

      Truth and Bright Water is the only one my library’s missing! But I plan to ILL it. :) And where are you: I thought you were North American!

      • June 21, 2011 12:46 pm

        heh heh no I’m from good ol’ Norn Iron (Northern Ireland)

        also your post just reminded me I need to read some Sherman Alexie.

      • June 23, 2011 3:15 pm

        Good to know! And squee for Alexie. :D

  3. June 21, 2011 8:05 am

    Sounds interesting but not something I would choose on my own. Perhaps that is a good thing though, I really ought to read more types of fiction!

    • June 21, 2011 10:59 am

      I think mystery lovers would get more out of this than non mystery lovers Amy. ;) But feel free to give it a go!

  4. June 21, 2011 8:58 am

    I wonder if this is accepted by the native american community if it stereotypes them ,I like mysterys but wonder if this is for me Eva ,I m not familiar with the writer what are the books he writes in his own name like I know Banville use his Black persona for crime fiction .so wonder if his other books were more literary fiction ,all the best stu

    • June 21, 2011 9:24 am

      I’m sorry, did I not make it clear? Thomas King is a Native American. :) And that’s his name, so yep, his stuff under King is definitely literary. I think you’d enjoy Green Grass, Running Water!

  5. June 21, 2011 1:39 pm

    This is great, Eva! I had no idea that he wrote under another name. I love Thomas King, so it is great there is another book I can enjoy by him. :)

  6. June 21, 2011 3:49 pm

    Sounds lika a fun mystery! Unfortunately my library does not have any of his novels. We do have his The Truth about Stories, though, maybe I should take a look at it…
    I second that you companion lists are great. From this one I’ve read Never Let Me Go (loved it:)), Orlando (well, loved it even more :)) and The Thirteenth Tale (simply hated that one!!).

    • June 23, 2011 3:16 pm

      I didn’t love The Thirteenth Tale as much as a lot of bloggers, but I liked it. I think you’re the first person I’ve heard of who hated it! ;)

  7. June 21, 2011 9:27 pm

    I have had Green Grass, Running Water on my list ever since you reviewed it at least a year ago but have NOT been able to find it ANYWHERE that I look for books. I want to read him very badly, but alas, he doesn’t seem to get the distribution that I want hm to have. This book sounds fantastic! I love the playing with stereotypes, though I think it’s kind of funny that you excuse him for doing so because he’s Native American and therefore that makes it ok ;-)

    • June 23, 2011 3:17 pm

      I added King’s ethnicity because of Stu’s comment! ;) I think there is a difference between playing off the stereotypes of a group you belong to v a group you don’t belong to, though. I know I cut women authors more slack than men authors when it comes to gender stuff. That’s too frustrating re: not being able to find Green Grass, Running Water. If I owned a copy, I’d send it to you. Maybe ILL?


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