Crow in Stolen Colors

Marcia Simpson, Author Poisoned Pen Press $24.95 (264p) ISBN 978-1-890208-36-3
Simpson's wordy debut novel features widowed ex-librarian Liza Romero, who runs a freight service and bookmobile on her old wooden schooner, the Salmon Eye, out of Wrangell, Alaska. While cruising the treacherous coastal waters with her trusty dog, Sam, Liza comes across seven-year-old James, a Tlingit native, washed up on a rock nearly drowned. James refuses to give his last name or say whether he was with anyone, but farther along the shore they spot the body of a man who turns out to be his uncle. The race is on when it becomes apparent that someone wants James dead as well. The independent Liza tries to enlist Police Lieutenant Paul Howard and Crow, an alcoholic Native American, to help her uncover not only the killer but also James's full identity. Paul, however, must also deal with the theft of Native Indian artifacts from a local museum and a custody battle for the young son that his ex-wife has taken out of state. Unhappy with her boyfriend, Liza finds herself attracted to Paul as the investigators struggle to stay one step ahead of disaster. Simpson puts her knowledge of Alaskan Indian lore to good use, but the underdeveloped plot fails to sustain interest. Each dramatic episode is needlessly drawn out, especially the detailed waterborne chases. Liza and Paul are adequate characters mired in a predictable plot with a routine, unexciting conclusion. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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Mass Market Paperbound - 304 pages - 978-0-425-17463-0
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