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Cold Skies

by Thomas King

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503521,481 (3.7)12
Thumps DreadfulWater has finally found some peace and quiet. His past as a California cop now far behind him, he's living out his retirement as a fine-arts photographer in the small town of Chinook. His health isn't great, and he could use a new stove, but as long as he's got his cat and a halfway decent plate of eggs, life is good. All that changes when a body turns up on the eve of a major water conference and the understaffed sheriff's department turns to Thumps for help. Thumps wants none of it, but even he is intrigued when he learns the deceased was developing a new technology that could revolutionize water and oil drilling . . . and that could also lose some very powerful people a lot of money. As strangers begin to pour into Chinook for the conference, Thumps finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into a conflict between secretive players who will kill to get what they want. In Cold Skies, the sly, wry, reluctant investigator of DreadfulWater and The Red Power Murders returns for another irresistible mystery that only Thomas King could tell.… (more)
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This third installment of the Thumps DreadfulWater series may be the best so far. It’s been awhile since I read the first two books, but King does such a nice job of reintroducing the characters, it was like I never left the small town of Chinook. And, what a cast of characters!

Trump DreadfulWater. Once a detective, he left the force after the woman he loved, and her young daughter were murdered, and he was unable to solve the crime. He’s now eking out a living as a landscape photographer, and trying to live a quiet existence in a town full of interesting, yet eccentric characters.

Archimedes Kousoulas. Archie, to his friends, owns a used-book shop, and knows everything and everybody. “Archie’s glasses were too large for his head and made him look like a Greek barn owl. He was the kind of friend everyone needed. Whether they wanted one or not.”

Duke Hockney. The no-nonsense sheriff who walks like John Wayne, and makes terrible coffee.

Cooley Small Elk. Thumps’ nephew. Big and strong. Think, Lou Ferrigno. “What Thumps appreciated most about the man was his innate intelligence and his gentle nature. Cooley seldom had a harsh word for anyone, and you had to work hard to get him angry. Thumps liked the man, but he always had the uneasy feeling that he was standing next to an impending avalanche.”

Claire Merchant. Chief of the Tribe and Thumps’ love interest. Definitely a strong woman with a mind of her own.

Stanley “Stick” Merchant. Claire’s son. “Stick was twenty-two or twenty-three and still lived at home because, to paraphrase the bank robber Willie Sutton, that was where the food was.”

Moses Blood. An elder Indian who lives in a trailer who philosophizes about any subject, no matter how mundane. He is also a great maker of chili. He reminds me of Chief Dan George in “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and “Little Big Man”. My favorite character, other than Thumps, but sadly, he has only a small part in this novel. “He was dressed in jeans, a blue work shirt, a white straw cowboy hat. Normally, he wore a pair of red runners, but today, for some reason, he was barefoot. The red runners had always struck Thumps as curious, but Moses told him that cowboy boots hurt his feet and that red was the color of dawn.”

Roxanne Heavy Runner. “A thick, handsome woman who had been the band secretary through at least six different chiefs. People who didn’t know her might think she was mean. In truth, she was just stern and somewhat inflexible. So far as Thumps could tell, there were few shades of gray in Roxanne’s world. If there were any at all.”

Deanna Heavy Runner. Roxanne’s younger sister. An intelligent, sweet woman working on a degree in criminology who endears herself to Thumps by helping him try to solve the case.

What makes this novel and the others in the series so much fun is the banter between Thumps and the rest of the characters. The mystery is a good one, and King takes us through the story with the reluctant Thumps collecting clues amidst little side stories that only add to the enjoyment.
( )
  MickeyMole | Oct 2, 2023 |
Another good DreadfulWater mystery. I like how he neatly goes about and solves the case, but a bit grumpily. This installment carries significant personal developments in Thumps’s relationship with Claire, and Freeway the cat makes a new friend. I can’t remember whether the books explain why Freeway is called that, but it’s a great name. I like this series for its characters, who are colourful and interesting without being “quirky”, and the narration, which gets in many excellent one-liners that have me chuckling out loud regularly. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jun 5, 2022 |
Good Reboot of the Reluctant Laidback Detective
Review of the 2018 paperback edition from HarperCollins

I only discovered the Thumps DreadfulWater series of cozy mystery novels due to the reissue of both "DreadfulWater" (2003) and "The Red Power Murders" (2006) in 2017. Those were in anticipation of the release of the reboot "Cold Skies" in 2018 and the further "A Matter of Malice" (expected late January 2019).

Thomas King doesn't miss a beat in carrying on with the story of his supposedly retired police detective who is regularly called upon by characters in the fictional town of Chinook to solve a local murder mystery. This is actually my favourite of the series to date perhaps because of how comfortably we ease back into the life of the lead character whose leisurely life of landscape photography is constantly being interrupted by either outside villains or disruptive friends and neighbours.

The reboot continues the habit of the reissues in printing the books in large print which bump up what would probably be 250-300 page novels to near-doorstopper levels of 500+/- pages. I'm not sure if that is a psy-ops trick of the publisher to make us think we are reading something more substantial or is meant to flatter the expected senior audience of readers who are the most drawn to cozy mysteries. Perhaps it is both. ( )
  alanteder | Jan 14, 2019 |
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Thumps DreadfulWater has finally found some peace and quiet. His past as a California cop now far behind him, he's living out his retirement as a fine-arts photographer in the small town of Chinook. His health isn't great, and he could use a new stove, but as long as he's got his cat and a halfway decent plate of eggs, life is good. All that changes when a body turns up on the eve of a major water conference and the understaffed sheriff's department turns to Thumps for help. Thumps wants none of it, but even he is intrigued when he learns the deceased was developing a new technology that could revolutionize water and oil drilling . . . and that could also lose some very powerful people a lot of money. As strangers begin to pour into Chinook for the conference, Thumps finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into a conflict between secretive players who will kill to get what they want. In Cold Skies, the sly, wry, reluctant investigator of DreadfulWater and The Red Power Murders returns for another irresistible mystery that only Thomas King could tell.

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