A combination of murder mystery, love story, dissection of racism, and paean to the Pacific Northwest, _Snow Falling on Cedars_ tells the story of the people of San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, during and after the Second World War. In 1954, a Japanese American is charged with the murder of a local white fisherman, and Ishmael Chambers -- a one-armed veteran and the local newspaper reporter -- senses the truth may not surface in the racially charged atmosphere surrounding the trial, so he digs for the truth himself. The story doubles back to Chambers's teenaged love affair with a Japanese American girl who was carted off with the rest to the detention camps during the war. The plot is perhaps a little too pat and politically correct, but Guterson writes beautifully -- especially about the trees, mountains, rain, snow, and general natural setting of his story.
This report prepared by David Loftus