cover image Silver Totem of Shame: A Meg Harris Mystery

Silver Totem of Shame: A Meg Harris Mystery

R.J. Harlick. Dundurn (IPS, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $17.99 trade paper (376p) ISBN 978-1-4597-2169-2

Allistair, a promising young Haida carver is brutally murdered in his Vancouver studio; in the aftermath the pole Allistair was working on vanishes. Meg Harris' discovery that the dead man is the adopted son of Meg's husband Eric's estranged stepsister Chloe, draws her into into the troubled world of British Columbia's Haida. Solving the mystery of who murdered Allistair requires solving the mystery of who his birth family was, knowledge Allistair was denied. The trail leads to a remote island and a community torn apart by greed and ambition, violence and tragedy, dark secrets and terrible betrayal. This is the sixth novel in the Meg Harris series, whose fourth entry was a nominee for the Arthur Ellis Award; each book looks at a different First Nations community. Harlick's prose and characterization is as competent as ever and the slow reveal of the reasons why Allistair was murdered is skillfully handled. That said, just as Meg, the white protagonist as detective-tourist in First Nations communities, seems more bystander than detective, so this work and the series as a whole has overtones of concerned liberal voyeurism at the plight of Canada's natives. (Apr.)