Black Tide Rising
BY R. J. McMILLEN
Reviewed by Antonio Ramblés
In Black Tide Rising, author R. J. McMillen has amply fulfilled the promise of a sequel to her earlier Dan Connor Mystery, Dark Moon Walking. Connor is an ex-cop hoping to exorcise his personal demons by plying the waterways around Vancouver Island. When his route puts him at the remote site where a lighthouse-keeper’s wife has been abducted and evidence of more foul play quickly surfaces, Connor receives an invited recall to police duty.
From that moment on, he’s torn between the familiar pull of his old job against his fear that a return to police work will be a deal-breaker for Claire, his love interest. While she barely appears in this work, Claire is rarely out of Connor’s mind and feeds his internal dialogue throughout.
All of McMillan’s works have an overarching theme of respect both for the environment and for Native peoples whose ancient life lessons often present themselves as startlingly relevant to today’s world.
The backdrops of the Connor stories are so vibrant that they’re almost characters in and of themselves. Verdant forests, wildlife, winds, and tides are woven so thoroughly into this tale that it could have been set nowhere else. The same goes for the values of the local Native cultures, which run through both plot and dialogue like a bright thread that informs without preaching.
Many of the revelations drawn from Native culture are presented through the words and deeds of Walker, a character also introduced in the earlier Connor book. He’s likeable – if often cryptic – and has admirably managed to reconcile himself to life as a cripple without surrendering to it. His wry sense of humor is often driven by the contrasts between his culture and Connor’s, but their banter is always marked by mutual respect.
As the story unfolds, the reader is afforded only fleeting glimpses into the conspiracy of thieves which has triggered kidnapping and murder, and the puzzle pieces remain teasingly unassembled until the climactic conclusion. Like the earlier Connor book, Black Tide Rising gets to the heart of the case without psychic profilers, exotic forensics, or electronic surveillance. This is a straight-ahead mystery solved solely by the wits of the protagonists… and those of the reader. Black Tide Rising ably hurdles the bar set high by its predecessor.
Published by Touchwood Editions. Available on Amazon in paperback for US$9.96, and on Kindle for $6.10.
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