In her gripping series opener, which introduces Detective Sergeant Alex Desocarras, an Indigenous RCMP officer stationed in the town of 100 Mile House in British Columbia’s beautiful and rugged South Cariboo, Van Clieaf captures the racial injustice, the pains and cruelties of rape, physical violence, and child trafficking. A police officer for fifteen years, Alex Desocarras has earned his reputation owing to his strong work ethics, intelligence, and hard work. When he is assigned to investigate the disappearance of Eleven-year-old Carey Bolton, a Gits’ilaasü girl, he knows there’s more to girl’s disappearance than a simple kidnapping. Another kidnapping and sexual assault of Anishinaabe filmmaker, Morgan O’Meara, follows soon after. With a clear-cut connection between the two cases, Alex finds himself in a race against time to save the child. The first-person narrative alternating between different characters is ripe with tension and relentless suspense in the back. At the same time, it works as social commentary, marking several insightful and intelligent points about racial and social disparity, discrimination against indigenous people, and the trauma of rape and physical violence. Without delving into melodrama, Van Clieaf shows how children are affected by violence and abuse. While she handles intimate emotions with aplomb, the novel as a mystery falls a bit short of expectations because of greater emphasis on Carey and Morgon’s individual stories. Nonetheless, this tale of hope and resilience is a remarkable achievement.
Readers will wait to see what Van Clieaf does next.