I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Thumps DreadfulWater has finally found some peace and quiet. His past as a California cop now far behind him, he’s living out his retirement as a fine-arts photographer in the small town of Chinook. His health isn’t great, and he could use a new stove, but as long as he’s got his cat and a halfway decent plate of eggs, life is good.
All that changes when a body turns up on the eve of a major water conference and the understaffed sheriff’s department turns to Thumps for help. Thumps wants none of it, but even he is intrigued when he learns the deceased was developing a new technology that could revolutionize water and oil drilling . . . and that could also lose some very powerful people a lot of money. As strangers begin to pour into Chinook for the conference, Thumps finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into a conflict between secretive players who will kill to get what they want.
What do you do when a Thumps DreadfulWater novel arrives for you at the public library? Why, you clear your schedule of course and proceed to devour it in one sitting.
Thomas King is such an excellent writer, managing to combine colourful characters with an interesting plot, numerous entertaining sub-plots and sly commentary on contemporary society. These mystery novels are a joy to read.
In this third installment, I found Thumps’ cat, Freeway, and his new neighbour’s dog, Pops, to be stars of the show.
”Thumps was pretty sure that Pops was a dog.
“He’s a Komondor,” said Dixie. “Real friendly, but he tends to fart a bit.”....
Thumps started to say something about photographs and computers when he was suddenly dropped into a septic tank.
“Sorry,” said Dixie. “That’s Pops. The move has been hard on him.”
Thumps had to blink several times to clear his vision.”
Of course, Freeway becomes enamoured of the dog.
Freeway was not a fresh air enthusiast. She preferred the luxuries of a toilet with water in the bowl, a soft sofa to scratch, a dish full of food, and a carpet upon which to puke.
As soon as the dog heard his name, he struggled to his feet, spilling Freeway off his head. The cat took the disturbance in stride. She rolled onto one side and leisurely licker her groin. Lovely. The queen at her toilette.”
The friendship between cat and dog manages to cheekily comment on Thumps’ unsteady relationship with Claire, and by extension on the majority of man-woman relationships. Without making a big deal of it, King also manages to comment on the habit of using vehicles as status symbols, the house beautiful & renovation trend, the “progress” of technology, foodie culture, and the tendency of city people to judge/underestimate people in rural or small town communities.
Sheriff Duke Hockney is particularly entertaining in this book and it is worth reading just for his part in it. Unbelievably, there are copies of the fourth volume available right now at my library and I have put a hold on that title. The only disappointment is that then I will be all up to date and will not have a DreadfulWater mystery to look forward to until the Master pens another one. Please, Mr. King, may I have some more?