For fans of detective mysteries, there is a lot to enjoy in this, the second appearance of township constable John McIntire, and for the very same readers, a huge disappointment in the ending. Set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in late 1950, the death of Bambi Morlen presents quite a challenge. He is found tied up, poisoned, scalped, stabbed and worse: someone has attempted to drill a hole in his skull.
Not all of these were done by the same individual, as it turns out, and thereby lies the puzzle that McIntire and county sheriff Pete Koski must put back together. There are a good many local residents of rural St. Adele and the semi-wilderness surrounding it, and the reader is introduced to many of them, not all of whom get along well with one another: the Finns; the Chippewa Indians; the hardy long-time residents; the rich folks in their own enclave along Lake Superior. Bambi is the son of one of the latter, and yes, I know, what kind of name is that?
During the long patient investigation that ensues, the pieces slowly start snapping into place, but the ending, which comes as quite a surprise, brings forth as many new questions as it answers. The final chapter is no help either. More eye-opening events occur, not related to Bambi’s death, but producing more head-scratching wonder (and dismay) on the part of the reader, or at least those of us who prefer some sort of closure in the mystery fiction they read.