Monday, March 21, 2011

The Raven's Pool by Deborah Cannon

Published by Trafford

As stated on the book cover, this is "An ancient feud, a modern love triangle," and "a twisted plot for revenge." I don't normally mention what is written on the cover, but this description is right on the mark. This is the first book in a series of archaeological thrillers. Unfortunately, I read the third book first, so I will have to shift my mind backward in time to review this one. Here, our characters are introduced and most definitely well-fleshed out. Book one is set in the San Juan Islands, a group of West Coast islands on the US/Canada border.

Deborah Cannon plots this series around the historical myths of the several nations of the West Coast, from Alaska to Oregon, but particularly the historical myths and legends of the Haida of the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia. As an aside, these islands have been officially renamed Haida Gwaii as of December 2009, after this book was written. At the time of writing the books, the islands were known as both the Queen Charlottes and Haida Gwaii, causing some confusion geographically. Why is this important to us, the readers? Because the protagonist of these books is half-Haida, so the islands are important to the story.

Deborah has a special knack of weaving suspense, murder and mystery into the ancient myths and legends of the Raven. I was hooked in the Prologue! Her writing grips the imagination, and keeps the suspense at high level all the while weaving romance, anthropology and archaeology, and history into the mix. I would be remiss if I didn't mention a deadly rivalry between two men part-Haida, who have directed their lives in opposing directions with the exception of searching the myth of Eagle and Raven. These two men are the arch-rivals of this reading journey. Both are totally invested in their goals.

Discovery of a cave with petroglyphs on a small island is the main centre of activity in this book, with a nearby "wet" site where a Raven rattle of indeterminately ancient age is discovered where it should not be. Immediately, the rich and powerful Clifford Radisson wants to buy up all the land and turn it into a theme par, while the dedicated but poor archaeologist Jake Lalonde fights to preserve it. Even though there are some petroglyphs that are obviously faked, he sees much more. Radisson will stop at nothing from trying to take away Jake's girlfriend to burying the opening to the cave in rubble while Jake and Angeline are in there. Will they be able to escape? Well, obviously since there are more adventures to come, but how will they manage it? In trying to find a way out, they stumble on a very important find they are able to keep secret, and Angeline's escape brings help but not before more of Radisson's dirty tricks. Does Radisson accomplish all the feats by himself. Hah! No way! Why should he get his hands dirty, he has too much to lose, but with all his money he can buy anything or anyone. Which will win this rivalry, theme park or heritage site? Many surprises are in store in this book which will keep your attention from wavering. Strong, suspenseful, action-packed thriller, an excellent entry into the series, and I know having read the third book it just gets better!

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