Book Review – Coeur d’Alene Waters by Ned Hayes
January 8, 2015
COEUR D’ALENE, IDAHO, is where people go to hide. Neo-Nazis. Corrupt politicians. Mining men with buried secrets.
In 1972, ninety-one men were killed in a mining “accident” sparked by a fire lit nearly a mile underground: the mystery was never solved. After the rest escaped, only three miners survived underground.
More than twenty years later, Matt Worthson is a sheriff’s lieutenant and the disgraced son of mining hero and Sunshine Mine survivor Stanley Worthson. Matt expects to finish out his years on the force in quiet ignominy. But when the gruesomely dismembered body of a police chaplain is found at the swanky Coeur d’Alene Resort, Matt is tapped to find the murderer.
As Matt investigates the murder of his friend, he finds himself digging deep into the labyrinth of lies that seeps beneath the Coeur d’Alene region, including the Sunshine Mine disaster.
Matt now has a chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him, and the darker truths in his father’s past. A neo-Nazi kid holds the only key. If Matt can find a way through the kid’s bravado, he might just uncover the truth behind his own broken family.
I’m sure you’re wondering how I came across this book . I started this book when I was going to write a review to win a Kindle Voyage (you find lots of giveaways on Twitter, and who doesn’t want to try and win a Voyage!). It was due sometime during mid-December, and with the holidays, I just didn’t get it read in time. I was then sidetracked by other books, and I didn’t pick this back up until right before the new year. However, I think this break in the reading helped me enormously with this particular book (and I don’t think that would be the case with most books).
When I initially began to read this book, I had a hard time keeping track of the characters and the time frame. In hindsight, it seems silly to me that was so difficult, but at the time it indeed was. Upon beginning again, those issues fell immediately into place for me. Maybe the holiday season fried my brain more than I realized ?
I have actually had the pleasure of traveling to Coeur d’Alene once (it is a quick trip from Spokane, which I now visit somewhat regularly). Coeur d’Alene is a beautiful city that I would love to visit again, and I was excited when this was one of the books as an option for the Voyage giveaway. I loved being able to visit it again in my reading journeys.
Here are the things you will love about this novel:
Like I said, Coeur d’Alene is a beautiful town that you would love to visit for a long weekend. For those of you from Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin, it is similar in many regards to Lake Geneva (cute small shops, lots of lake sports, lots of people during the on season). However, it has a little more beautiful scenery to make it just a little more special. If you haven’t yet been there, you want to schedule yourself a weekend away this summer!
Hayes does such a great job of creating a wide range of characters, and conveying their personal strengths and weaknesses through his storytelling. He recognizes that all people are human and make mistakes, and his characters clearly have faults that they need to deal with. These faults impact how they handle their lives, their relationships, and their jobs. You root for them to rely on their strengths and for them to be the best they can be.
Hayes keeps you guessing as to how the mystery is going to resolve itself. You know that a murder has occurred, but he throws other crimes in, and in combination with the flaws of the main characters, you really have no idea how this book will end. He develops a strong plot that makes sense, and an ending that is realistic within the context of the rest of the novel.
I had never heard of the Sunshine Mine Accident, and I knew very little about mining in general. Hayes seamlessly interweaves a great deal of history regarding the Idaho mining communities throughout the novel. I love when you learn historical tidbits while reading a fiction novel!
As for the things that might make you crazy: I mentioned previously that initially I had a hard time getting into the novel because I was confused all of the characters as well as the time frame. I think this was just my state of mind at the time, but I had to put the book aside for awhile before I was truly able to appreciate it. In addition, if you are looking for a pick-me-up story, this may not be the book for you. Hayes dives into character flaws and the darker side of humanity. There are definitely some heartwarming aspects to the novel that I loved, but you have to wade through some depravity first. Overall, I recommend this book if you like a solid mystery with well-developed characters in a unique setting.
Have any of you read Coeur d’Alene Waters? What books have you read that take place in a unique setting that you would recommend?