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by Barbara Fister
St Martin's Minotaur, April 2008
336 pages
ISBN: 0312374917

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Why is it that people choosing an ethical course of behavior are often punished for living by the rules of integrity? Anni Koskinen was born to be a cop; it's at the core of who she is as a person. But she's forced to leave the Chicago Police Department after she testifies against another cop who lost his temper and left a teenager with permanent brain damage. Anni's colleagues then make her professional life completely miserable. She knows that she has to leave her job when no one comes to help her in a bad situation, and she realizes that the lack of support might result in an innocent person's being hurt. She's put in for her private investigator's license but is struggling to get her life back on track. It doesn't help that her former teammates are still holding a grudge and harassing her regularly.

When a local priest asks Anni if she would be willing to help one of the local church volunteers, Rosa Saenz, she agrees. Rosa requests that Anni drive her several hours north to a Native American community in Minnesota. Before they even get started, things go awry and Rosa disappears. As it turns out, Rosa is a fugitive who is accused of having murdered the father of one of Anni's dearest friends, FBI special agent Jim Tilquist, in the 70s.

Asked to prove Rosa's innocence, Anni receives Jim's consent to proceed. What follows then is an interesting journey crossing years and political situations, ranging from the militancy of the American Indian Movement and various civil liberties issues. Fister skillfully guides the reader through the past and present, all the while raising the stakes until the truth is revealed in an emotionally compelling resolution. IN THE WIND is an extremely satisfying book because all the vital elements are in place. The setting, whether in Chicago or in the wilds of Minnesota, is perfectly rendered. The plot is well conceived and executed. I was struck by Fister's skill in providing succinct descriptions of rather complicated issues and situations. She manages to provide all of Anni's police department background in just a few paragraphs; any other writer might have stretched that out for pages.

But my favorite thing about the book was the characters. Anni, obviously, is an intriguing woman who lives by her principles. She is exceptionally loyal to her friends and loved ones. There were two somewhat damaged characters who were treated with great sensitivity. First was Anni's brother, Martin, who is autistic. Fister doesn't just place that label on him; she shows what it means in terms of how he reacts to the world around him and how Anni gently and lovingly supports him. The same is true of Sophie Tilquist, Jim's daughter, who is manic depressive. There were several other secondary characters who were similarly well developed. There were no caricatures in this book.

I hope IN THE WIND will be the first book in a series. I'm sure that Fister will be compared to Sara Paretsky, with the two authors both centering their books on strong females working in Chicago. However,Fister doesn't come off second best in such a comparison and has created a work that is unique.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, April 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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