by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager
Manhattan Public Library’s monthly book discussion group, the Good Books Club, will again host a winter-spring series of programs from the Kansas Humanities Council’s TALK (Talk About Literature in Kansas) program. Our theme for this series will be Native American Mysteries and will feature books that are rich in varied geographic locales and atmosphere, Native American cultures and spiritual traditions, and the changing social, ethnic, and political face of America. Book group meetings are on the last Thursday of each month – January 28, February 25, March 31, and April 28 – and will start at 7:00 p.m. in the library’s 2nd floor Groesbeck Room.
On January 28th we’ll introduce the series with “DreadfulWater Shows Up”, a stylish mystery debut by Hartley GoodWeather, pseudonym of literary author Thomas King. Cherokee ex-cop Thumps DreadfulWater has left law enforcement behind and moved to a reservation in Montana in an attempt to shed memories of a killer who got away. Thumps now pursues a career as a fine-arts photographer and hopes to reignite a past relationship with Claire Merchant, head of the local tribal council. After a murder at the reservation’s glitzy new casino and resort development, Claire’s son becomes a suspect and Thumps reluctantly decides to track the real killer. The leader for the January discussion will be Trish Reeves, a retired English teacher at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence.
Our book choice for February 25 is fast-paced mystery thriller “Dance for the Dead” by Thomas Perry. A member of the Seneca Wolf clan of upper New York State, clever, beautiful, and fearless sleuth Jane Whitefield runs her own witness protection service, making victims vanish. Relying in part on ancestral traditions of mysticism and woodland lore, she conjures up new identities for people with nowhere left to run. When an eight-year-old boy, heir to a fortune, is stalked by the same killers who murdered his parents, Jane takes readers on a wild ride of switched identities and super killers, facing dangerous obstacles that will put her powers and her life to a terrifying test. Discussion leader for February is Erin Pouppirt, a member of the Kaw Nation and an independent scholar.
On March 31, we’ll read and discuss “The Shaman Sings” by James D. Doss. Ute Tribal Police investigator Charlie Moon and Granite Creek, Colorado, Police Chief Scott Parrish join forces when confronted with the brutal murder of an ambitious and unscrupulous female university researcher. Aged Ute shaman Daisy Perika draws on native spirituality to guide the investigation, including visions and foreboding dreams that, inexplicably, are shared by other characters. Combining Ute prophesy, scientific investigation, and Mexican fatalism, the author switches points of view and exposes complex motivations as these characters track and find the killer before he strikes again. Our March discussion will be led by Deborah Peterson, an instructor of Chinese language and East Asian civilization at KU.
The final book in our series, on April 28, will be “Dance Hall of the Dead” by author Tony Hillerman, one of his series of complex, colorful, and compelling Southwestern mysteries starring Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navaho tribal police. Two young Native-American boys, one of them a Zuni, have disappeared into thin air, leaving a pool of blood behind. Lt. Joe Leaphorn is called to the case but his investigation is complicated by an important archaeological dig under way and by roadblocks created by the unique laws and sacred religious rites of the Zuni people. Hillerman is a master of recreating the exotic atmosphere of Zuni and Navajo culture and ceremonies overlaid by the splendor of the natural setting of Southwestern Native American lands. Discussion leader for the April meeting will be Mickey Chance-Reay, an author and historian who teaches at Kansas State University.
Please join our intrepid and enthusiastic band of avid readers for these discussions this winter and spring. This series is sponsored and by the Manhattan Library Association (the Friends of MPL) and by the Kansas Humanities Council.