The first line of Lazarus Barnhill’s The Medicine People surely deserves a position in the first line’s hall of fame. “The instant Ace—Officer Adams—reached for his service revolver with his right hand, he extended his ice cream to me with his left hand.” The novel lives up to this promise wonderfully, offering a combination of intriguing mystery, police procedural, pleasing romance, and family drama with a truly fascinating side-order of well-researched Native American history.
The story’s told with a self-deprecating sense of urgency by rookie patrolman Dan Hook. With a keen eye for observation and a willingness to learn, Dan finds himself investigating a crime that occurred before he was born. His loyalties are tested when he doubts the official line, and his future in the force might hang in the balance.
There are deeper loyalties at play in this story though as Dan watches the mysterious Medicine People gather around the bars of Ben Whitekiller’s cell. Meanwhile Dan’s falling for the young woman who drove with Ben, and trying to learn more of his own past from his mother, who also falls for her. The dialog’s fast and furious and fun. The police procedures and crime scene investigation are equally enthralling and authentic. And Dan’s explanation of Indian history and alcoholism are carefully given, as befits a rookie cop explaining what he knows. Of course, he also has much to learn.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would love to meet these characters again.
Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy of this novel by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.