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by Kris Lackey
Blackstone, July 2023
203 pages
ISBN: 1982689307

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

As I began this book, I felt as though I had been lifted up and dropped in an entirely foreign world. Admittedly, some of this might have been because I started the series with this, the fourth book. But the move to a backwoods Oklahoma world replete with unwashed hippy homesteaders, drunken petty (and not so petty) criminals, and a variety of backwoods folks caused more culture shock for me than just entering a series after the scene was set.

Bill Maytubby is a Chickasaw Lighthorse police sergeant, and his partner, Hannah Bond, is a county deputy. They stand heads above the craziness taking place on the reservation and in the county: in intellect, education (in Maytubby's case) and stature (in Bond's case). Before cracking the book, I had been imagining a cross between Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire and Tony Hillerman's Jim Chee. This book was anything but. And yet, it was fascinating, engaging, and fun to read.

The area in which Maytubby mainly serves summonses and Bond mainly provides traffic control comprises the border of Native American and county land. Between the two of them, they know most of the residents in the area and their proclivities, providing a real sense of the interconnectedness of residents in a rural area. When they are called to check out the report of a charred body in a kiln on a seemingly uninhabited remote piece of land, they discover what they quickly suspect is the remains of a young Chickasaw man. As they investigate a crime that is clearly outside their normal scope of duties, requiring them to work on it in off hours and somewhat under the radar, they uncover a larger conspiracy involving drugs, a land grab, and duplicity. There's an interesting mix of complexity and simplicity in the plot as backwoods ruffians meet city slickers.

Lackey describes the mostly flat landscape with roads meeting at right angles extremely well, contributing to the sense of being transported to Oklahoma. The characters of Maytubby and Bond are well fleshed out, even given that this is a continuation of a series. Other characters are somewhat stereotyped, often adding a sense of hilarity to situations that would otherwise be quite intense. The scenes between Maytubby and his love interest, Jill, are full of clever repartee, adding to the depth for the characters. Most times that Jill and Maytubby are together they cook together, and understanding a bit about the food of the area helps to build the sense of location.

TEN-ACRE ROCK is both character-driven and plot-driven, and each aspect is done well. And, in spite of the plot being centered on the murder of a young man, the book ends as positively as it could. In the meantime, the reader has learned a lot about the culture of the area and has been entertained along the way. I will definitely be watching for book #5 in the series, and I look forward to revisiting Maytubby, Bond, Jill and Oklahoma.

Sharon Mensing, retired educational leader, lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors in Arizona.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, August 2023

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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