Published by 47 NORTH on June 1, 2022
Genres: Fiction / Alternative History, Fiction / Indigenous, Fiction / Thrillers / Crime
Against the backdrop of a never-colonized North America, a broken Ojibwe detective embarks on an emotional and twisting journey toward solving two murders, rediscovering family, and finding himself.
North America was never colonized. The United States and Canada don't exist. The Great Lakes are surrounded by an independent Ojibwe nation. And in the village of Baawitigong, a Peacekeeper confronts his devastating past.
Twenty years ago to the day, Chibenashi's mother was murdered and his father confessed. Ever since, caring for his still-traumatized younger sister has been Chibenashi's privilege and penance. Now, on the same night of the Manoomin harvest, another woman is slain. His mother's best friend. This leads to a seemingly impossible connection that takes Chibenashi far from the only world he's ever known.
The major city of Shikaakwa is home to the victim's cruelly estranged family--and to two people Chibenashi never wanted to see again: his imprisoned father and the lover who broke his heart. As the questions mount, the answers will change his and his sister's lives forever. Because Chibenashi is about to discover that everything about their lives has been a lie.
I chose this book from the Kindle First Reads selections because of the alternate world building aspect of the story. I was interested in seeing how the author envisioned a world where Europeans never colonized the Americas. How would societies here have grown and changed?
One of the major differences explored was the use of a system of restorative justice instead of a punitive system like we have now. When a crime is committed and the guilty party is identified, the focus of the justice system is “What will it take to make the injured person whole?” It isn’t a perfect system as is shown in the book but it has a different focus than other forms of justice. It was interesting to take a look at how that could work.
The author also imagines a world with a more cooperative living structure. No one owns property or houses. When someone no longer needs a house it is assigned to someone else who does. When a person dies any of their belongings that are not kept by friends or relatives are given to people who need them or are recycled.
Even in larger cities emphasis is placed on nature. All skyscrapers have ponds on the roofs to support wildlife. Trees are on every level. I loved those details.
I found that I wasn’t as interested in the murder story at the heart of this book. That plotline seemed to almost serve as a way to dive into the world and mind of a small town police detective in this reimagined society rather than being the whole point of the story. I was ok with that. I wanted to know more about the world instead of reading a strict whodoneit.
I’d recommend this for anyone who have ever wondered what a non-colonized North America would look like.