This is the first Sgt. Windflower book I have read, and I was curious about a book with a Native American member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the protagonist. The series takes place in Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada. Sgt. Winston Windflower is an RCMP officer and a Cree from Northern Alberta, who is stationed in the small town of Grand Bank.
The story is fairly straightforward with a few twists: A large crew of outlaw bikers terrorizing the town of Grand Falls leaves behind the bodies of two people, a man and a woman, shot execution style in the head. The bodies are believed to be linked to the Bacchus Motorcycle Club, whose members are professional criminals who deal in prostitution, drugs, and brutality. The club is not only the nexus for a large drug distribution ring but is fighting another club for the territory. Sgt. Windflower, whose wedding to Sheila Hillier is rapidly approaching, is called to the town to clean up the mess. Budget cuts, meaning fewer officers to cover the territory, means trouble not only in Grand Falls but also at home, where his future wife is the mayor. A complication arises when the motorcycle belonging to Sheila’s cousin, Carol Jackson, is found abandoned by the side of the road outside of Grand Bank. Windflower learns from Sheila that Carole has been a member of motorcycle gangs in the past.
Windflower has to rely on his fellow Mounties to assist him in solving the crime and neutralizing Bacchus and its leader. He is supported by Sheila and his dog Lady, who is sensitive to his feelings and who is an important part of his life. Windflower’s Cree background also figures into his emotional support – helping him interpret his dreams through his uncle and aunt who are dreamwalkers, and beginning each day with the smoke of his smudge pot to remind him to be kind, strong, and determined.
The one word I can think of to describe this book is ‘nice.’ Such an overworked word, but it means good and enjoyable, kind, polite, and friendly. The characters in the book who are not part of the biker gang are believable, well drawn and, well, nice. The story moves along at a sedate pace, serene in its descriptions, and detailed in the police procedures. Even the tension-filled scenes are not high octane, and the dialogue is almost stately. The lives of the police are realistically portrayed in this way with lots of detail and even the occasionally boring parts. Most significantly, their contributions to helping people and communities overcome new and very difficult challenges is emphasized.
There is food in this book – delicious, mouth-watering in its description – and I am a sucker for food. I was introduced to bakeapples, another term for cloudberries, which are somewhat similar to raspberries of strawberries, but found in cool temperate, alpine climates, arctic tundra and boreal forests. I can’t wait to try them.
One other character that has to be mentioned is Newfoundland itself, an island whose natural beauty the author describes so well that I want to visit.
This was a slow read, but a ‘nice’ one.
About the author
Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine. The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface and A Twist of Fortune. He is a member of Ottawa Independent Writers, Capital Crime Writers, the Crime Writers of Canada and the Newfoundland Writers’ Guild.
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You can find A Long Ways from Home on Amazon: