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DAREDEVIL'S APPRENTICE
by Letha Albright
Memento Mori, May 2002
272 pages
$12.95
ISBN: 0970504942


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A dusty little Oklahoma town forms the backdrop for a story of old grudges, land deals gone sour, friendships lost, and always the Cherokee Nation and, in the background but still perceptible the Trail of Tears.

Viv Powers is a reporter in Cherokee County. She has found a good friend in Lucy Dreadfulwater, perhaps the only close friend she has. Viv arrives just after Lucy has killed Dale Nowlin, apparently in self-defense, although Lucy asks for a favor that makes Viv quite uncomfortable. Then Viv's boss assigns her a story about unsolved mysteries of Cherokee County including the disappearance of John Dreadfulwater in 1945. Lucie does not want her writing about her grandfather but then she herself is found dead, an apparent suicide. Viv cannot leave this death alone in spite of the fact that she seems to be a current target.

This book is beautifully and magnificently written. It is filled with stark and vivid images which remain distinct in my mind's eye. The prose flows and in the process both tells a remarkable story and creates characters and an environment that live. The characters are clear, authentic, and intriguing. Viv, of course, is fully believable. She is many faceted, sometimes infuriating, sometimes lovable, with sharp angles upon which a person could get cut. She is fiercely independent which is probably why she has only one close friend. And she is like a dog with a bone; she will not give up once she has started.

The sense of place is equally remarkable. Every sense is engaged as the reader experiences this small Oklahoma town and the surrounding countryside. The dusty streets, the forests, the ever flowing river, and always the wind, blowing all the way down from Canada bringing storms and thunder and lightning.

This is a place where the past commingles with the present until sometimes you can hardly tell them apart. The Cherokee Indians have one of the saddest of all native American tales. They actually accepted the white man's way of life and adopted his culture, becoming farmers and teaching their children English. It did not help. They were still uprooted from their farms and their homes and driven along the Trail of Tears until they reached the land no one wanted, Oklahoma. One out of four died along the way. While this is not part of this story, its circumstances definitely affect and define every person in this book.

I cannot praise this book highly enough. It penetrates the hearts of the characters and mine as well. It is vivid, it is graphic, it is compassionate. Above all it is true.

Reviewed by Sally A. Fellows, June 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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