Top, 2003, 14.95, 302 pp.
Near Ashland, Wisconsin, Chequamegon Resource Recovery Company plans to salvage lumber that sunk to the bottom of Chequamegon Bay off Lake Superior in the 1890s. The firm offers a public relations job to Seattle based Michael Tanner claiming that their concept is economically sound in terms of profit and local jobs and ecologically superior to cutting down trees.
Michael wonders why a small Wisconsin firm would turn to Washington State for a minor leaguer like he knows he is. More surprising is how far his client dug into his life. They know his beloved Mary Whitney has ties to the area and needs a sailboat that they offer as part of the deal.
Life in the northern Midwest seems idyllic to Michael until the crew brings up the skeletal remains of a person starting with a detached skull. Soon it becomes obvious that the victim was shot in the back over a century ago. Though planning to stay out of the 1890s murder, Michael is forced to investigate to keep his beloved Mary and himself safe from a modern day felon.
The second Tanner ecological mystery (see the vividly descriptive INNER PASSAGES) is a superb who-done-it starring a delightfully reluctant hero. The story line is straightforward in terms of the modern day shenanigans though the use of flashbacks interspersed throughout the novel brings 1890s Wisconsin to life inside a murder subplot. Carl Brookins does not beat around the bush as he targets a college graduate save the environment audience with this well written, picturesque novel that lucidity uses a murder theme to render a strong ecological message.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner