Seaweed on the Rocks
A Silas Seaweed Mystery by Stanley Evans
Review: Victoria author Stanley Evans' series protagonist, forty-year-old Coast Salish hard-boiled street cop, Silas Seaweed, has a lot in common with others of his ilk – a taste for the sauce, an eye for the babes, a liking for rough justice, a disdain for police bureaucrats, a sympathy for the underdog and as much independence as his feral cat, PC, that he shares his one-man office with. But what sets Seaweed apart is his First Nation heritage, the off-beat characters that surround him, and his ability to call upon the traditions of his people's distant past to solve crimes of the present. And despite Evans' admissions that the Warrior Reserve where Seaweed lives and the Mohawt Bay Band of which Silas is a member do not exist, there is an authentic ring to each of the novels in the series that makes the settings, characters and stories significantly entertaining.
An opening story about the origin of Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea and an episode about Chief Alphonse, a baby porpoise, a tiny coffin "with ghostly red-and black heraldic crests", and a brilliant zigzagging light that leaves the surroundings smelling "of forest mould, salt water and sulphur" set the tone for the rest of the novel. And Seaweed's Welfare Wednesday trip to the ghost ridden Donnelly's Marsh continues it with the finding of a young Salish woman, Marnie Paul, dying of a drug overdose as her wanted-list boyfriend exits the scene. That's the launching for Seaweed's non-stop chase through Victoria's alleys, down streets and into bars tourists are told to avoid. And on his way he meets the likes of transvestite, "Claudette," with his "botoxed lips as fat as frankfurters," three-hundred-pound ex-boxer and now preacher, Joe McNaught, and Harvey Cheeke, the "suicidal, alcoholic artist with a BFA from the University of Washington, Seattle" and a reputation to rival Norval Morrisseau's. He gets advice from Old Mary Cooke's teachings and his conversations with Chief Alphonse, especially when it comes to the great ginger-coloured grizzly he occasionally encounters or the mica scale he finds from the sea serpent Sisiutl, or the dreams he needs to interpret. There are occasional sexual fantasies as well about his long-time girlfriend, Felicity Exeter, and his newly met murder suspect, Charlotte Fox, even as he tries to quell a rumour that he has AIDS. There's nothing dreamy, though, about his encounters with his police colleagues "Nice" Manners, a closet racist, and Acting Police Chief, Detective Inspector, Bernie Tapp, his long-suffering supervisor ever willing to let Silas follow the drum beat on his own moccasin trail. Then, there's Fred Halloran, the reporter who dogs his trail and Titus "Tight Ass" Silverman, the pawnbroker, and his assistant Tubby Gonzales who keep turning up along the way as Silas tracks the whereabouts of a shady missing hypnotherapist, Dr. Lawrence Trew, and follows Charlotte Fox's Lexus with a GPS he secretly installed. By trail's end, of course, Seaweed has determined what happened to Marnie, the young girl from his hometown rez, where Dr. Trew has gone, and who has killed whom.
And Stanley Evans has re-confirmed that he's a damn good storyteller who knows how to seamlessly wrap mystery around mythology, real or imagined. And to show that he can do it again, he's included an excerpt of his next book, Seaweed in the Soup, as an add-on.
Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham (firstname.lastname@example.org) for contributing his review of Seaweed on the Rocks.
Review Copyright © 2008 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved
Reprinted with Permission
Location(s) referenced in Seaweed on the Rocks: Victoria, British Columbia
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Seaweed on the Rocks by Stanley Evans — A Silas Seaweed Mystery
Publisher: TouchWood Editions
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 2008
List Price: $12.95