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DreadfulWater (2002)

by Thomas King

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1519184,555 (3.63)15
The award-winning, bestselling author of The Back of the Turtle and The Inconvenient Indian masters the comic mystery novel in this series opener, starring ex-cop Thumps DreadfulWater Thumps DreadfulWater is a Cherokee ex-cop trying to make a living as a photographer in the small town of Chinook, somewhere in the northwestern United States. But he doesn't count on snapping shots of a dead body languishing in a newly completed luxury condo resort built by the local Indian band. It's a mystery that Thumps can't help getting involved in, especially when he realizes the number one suspect is Stick Merchant, anti-condo protester and wayward son of Claire Merchant, head of the tribal council and DreadfulWater's sometimes lover. Smart and savvy, blessed with a killer dry wit and a penchant for self-deprecating humour, DreadfulWater just can't manage to shed his California cop skin. Before long, he is deeply entangled in the mystery and has his work cut out for him. A novel that will appeal to mystery fans as well as Thomas King's loyal audience, DreadfulWater Shows Up is a catchy, clever read.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Boy, Howdy! I had a lot of fun with this one. Love the character, Thumps Dreadfulwater. Laughed out loud several times, which I rarely do while reading. Nice little mystery story. ( )
  MickeyMole | Oct 2, 2023 |
Thumps Dreadfulwater has retired from police and works as a photographer in a town near a reservation. He becomes involved in investigating the murder of a computer programmer. Prime suspect is the son of the tribal chief with whom Thumps has a relationship. Despite the local sheriff's opposition Thumps investigates and eventually solves the crime. Author teases with background in California.
  ritaer | Nov 29, 2022 |
Thumps DreadfulWater is a Cherokee ex-cop who has transplanted himself from California to Chinook, a town somewhere in the northwestern United States. He’s trying to reinvent himself as a photographer, but the pay isn’t great, so he has a sideline in photographing for the police. When a body is found at the soon-to-be-opened casino on the local reservation, Thumps finds himself pulled into asking questions more befitting a cop than a photographer.

This is a great introduction to the series, although do bear in mind that it was first published in 2002, so some of the technology discussion feels a bit outdated. The characters, however, are timeless. King’s writing is smooth and sprinkled with moments of dry wit that had me snorting out loud. And breakfast at Al’s sounds amazing.

I actually started this series with the 4th book, A Matter of Malice, so this book was the second one I’ve read in the series. So you can probably do the same, or you can start at the beginning and watch the characters grow.

I’d recommend this if you like mysteries and are looking to try some work by Thomas King in that genre. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jan 4, 2022 |
I loved the Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour when it was on CBC Radio about 20 years ago. That radio comedy show was written by Thomas King so I shouldn’t have been surprised that he also wrote a mystery series with comedic elements.

Thumps DreadfulWater is a Cherokee ex-cop turned photographer who ends up becoming a detective. A casino/condo complex is about to be opened when the body of a computer programmer is found on the premises. Stick Merchant, a young activist opposed to the development, is the prime suspect so his mother Diane, the band chief and Thumps’ sometimes lover, asks Thumps to investigate. As is expected, Thumps solves the case, though not before more murders occur.

This is the first book of the series so there is considerable background given about Thumps. He left the police force in Eureka, California, because of a tragedy after which “being a cop was something he could no longer do.” He is now a photographer but considers himself “self-unemployed.” One friend calls him lazy – “’the laziest man I’ve ever known’” – and napping does seem to be his favourite past-time. That same friend also tells him that he is “’good at what you do’” and it does not come as a surprise that he is better at detective work than the sheriff, Duke Hockney.

The touches of humour make the book an entertaining read. There really isn’t the biting social and political satire I expected; chuckles are a more typical reaction to the light-hearted humour. There are comments like “Trouble . . . was like a man, never in short supply, never too far away” and descriptions like a man having “no more romance than a Kleenex.” Another character is introduced as “a skinny reed of a man who enjoyed complaining the way some people enjoy chocolate. He was an uncomplicated, unrepentant mix of bigotry, sexism, and general vulgarity, a social garbage can on legs.” About the most pointed comment is the reference to one man’s hatred of Native-Americans: “That was the nice thing about hate . . . You didn’t have to be right. You just had to be committed.”

The one element that had me puzzled was setting. When Thumps left California, he moved east and he seems to be living somewhere in the northwest in a town named Chinook. I think of King as a Canadian writer, but it becomes clear that the fictional Chinook is in the U.S. because the F.B.I. comes to investigate. So what’s with the Tim Horton’s reference? It and the mention of Calgary are an appeasement to Canadian readers?

This is a fast, non-taxing read. The mystery is fairly straightforward and identifying the villain is not too difficult. It is the sharp dialogue and witty exposition combined with the indigenous view of the world that make this book more than ordinary.

Note: Please check out my reader's blog (https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski). ( )
  Schatje | Jul 5, 2019 |
Cozy Western Mystery
Review of the 2017 reissue of "DreadfulWater Shows Up" (2002)

Thomas King has recently rebooted his DreadfulWater amateur detective series with "Cold Skies" (2018) and "A Matter of Malice" (2019). This provides for reissue editions of the original books in the series from 2002 and 2006 with atmospheric landscape photos added to the covers which are now in the spirit of Thumps DreadfulWater's post-police fine-art photography career in which he occasionally doubles as a crime-scene tech. In the present case, Thumps is asked to help investigate the murder of a security systems analyst working in the setup of a soon-to-be-opened casino/condo complex on a first nations reserve.

The Thumps DreadfulWater series is solidly in the cozy mystery realm except in a setting of Indian Reserves with modern day issues such as casinos/indigenous rights added to the mix. King has a good ear for dialogue banter and Thumps makes for an engaging likeable lead character.

Observation
This isn't advertised as a Large-Print edition, but the font has definitely been boosted to about 14-points in order to bulk up the reprint to a medium-doorstopper level of 448 pages, from the original 2002 edition's 240 pages. Some sort of publisher psychological persuasion to convince you that the book is more substantial than a light mystery? ( )
  alanteder | Dec 11, 2018 |
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The award-winning, bestselling author of The Back of the Turtle and The Inconvenient Indian masters the comic mystery novel in this series opener, starring ex-cop Thumps DreadfulWater Thumps DreadfulWater is a Cherokee ex-cop trying to make a living as a photographer in the small town of Chinook, somewhere in the northwestern United States. But he doesn't count on snapping shots of a dead body languishing in a newly completed luxury condo resort built by the local Indian band. It's a mystery that Thumps can't help getting involved in, especially when he realizes the number one suspect is Stick Merchant, anti-condo protester and wayward son of Claire Merchant, head of the tribal council and DreadfulWater's sometimes lover. Smart and savvy, blessed with a killer dry wit and a penchant for self-deprecating humour, DreadfulWater just can't manage to shed his California cop skin. Before long, he is deeply entangled in the mystery and has his work cut out for him. A novel that will appeal to mystery fans as well as Thomas King's loyal audience, DreadfulWater Shows Up is a catchy, clever read.

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