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Deep Creek Hardcover – February 10, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1ST edition (February 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547237480
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547237480
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The 1887 massacre of more than 30 Chinese gold miners in a remote area of the Idaho territory provides the real-life foundation for this engrossing look at racial prejudice and the settling of the West, the first novel from Hand (the pen name for William Howarth and Anne Matthews). After police judge Joe Vincent and his 10-year-old daughter, Nell, find a body while fishing, more brutally mutilated bodies turn up along the Snake River. The Sam Yup Company, a Chinese labor exchange, hires Vincent to find the culprits. Lee Loi, an ambitious investigator, and Grace Sundown, a Métis mountain guide who shares a past with Vincent, join the hunt. The three track a murderous crew through remote canyons and towns. The plot soon evolves into an insightful look at how Chinese immigrants and American Indians became the targets of rage and violence. The subsequent capture and trial of the killers illustrate that how the West was won was neither simple nor fair to minorities. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

A fascinating account that's equally effective as mystery, Western history and character study (Las Vegas Review-Journal), this gripping, complex novel captivated the critics with its moving story, engaging characters, and stark, evocative writing. Building a novel around actual events can be tricky, but these first-time novelists carry it off with aplomb, seamlessly interweaving fact and fiction to fill in the historical gaps. Howarth and Matthews paint a vivid, visceral portrait of the Old West, bringing to life America's enduring struggles with diversity and racial tension. The Oregonian alone voiced complaints, including an objection to liberties taken with real-life characters. Nonetheless, most critics agreed that "fans of Northwest history, Westerns and mysteries will find much to like in this tale" (Seattle Times).

More About the Author

See http://www.dana-hand.com for author interview, character profiles, resources, guides for readers, plus images and maps of the Deep Creek country. Thanks!

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By John V. Fleming on February 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Deep Creek", Dana Hand's debut novel, is richly satisfying in at least four ways. It meets my first requirement of all fiction: it tells an engaging story. Next, that story is firmly grounded in actual historical events, many of them of the sort that may not automatically come to mind at the mention of the word "Western". The animating event of "Deep Creek" was an actual mass murder of immigrant Chinese gold miners in 1887. The book's western setting (Idaho in the 1880s) is vivid, detailed, tactile, not an opera backdrop with painted cardboard forests and mountains. Dana Hand has a real sense of locality and landscape. As in many fine books topography becomes a kind of ancillary character. Finally, the actual human characters are varied, developed, and fully credible.

At one level "Deep Creek" could be described as a "detective novel". It is certainly enough of one that a reviewer must avoid spoiling its deft plot with a dull summary. Its quiet hero, Joe Vincent, is of a type you have probably met before: a good man whose duty it is to defend and enforce legality and civil values, placed in a situation where law and civilization seem at times mere words. In him there's a hint of the sheriff of "High Noon" and perhaps more than a hint of the lawman of "No Country for Old Men". I found myself closely identifying with him not in hero-worship but in simple and genuine fellow feeling. It is true that I was so deeply caught up in the book's central and horrific crime that I was hoping against hope that its resolution would be some kind of ideal and definitive justice that, unfortunately, the real world too seldom affords.

Any reader who likes a good western will like "Deep Creek". Though it is beautifully written, it is not oppressively "literary".
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The place is remote Hell's Canyon, 1887, along the Snake River in the Idaho Territory in the Pacific Northwest. The event is a horrendous massacre of over thirty Chinese miners, systematically mutilated, tortured, violated and murdered, a few of the bodies floating downriver to be caught by a young girl, Nell Vincent, fishing with her father, Joe, an ex-marshal. Now a police judge in the Territory, Joe takes it upon himself to investigate the shocking murders, traveling upriver with an Indian guide and a representative of the Chinese corporation responsible for the miners, Lee Loi. Vincent has a personal history with the guide, Grace Sundown, but both parties put their feelings aside in pursuit of the greater good, braving considerable danger to bring the murderers to trial.

Written under the pseudonym of Dana Hand, Will Howarth and Anne Matthews have constructed a harrowing account of an actual event, the victims of little account because of the color of their skin. The Idaho Territory is a brutal place, anti-immigrant sentiment spreading like a virus to accommodating ears. By the time the culprits are charged by the law, Vincent's journey will have unearthed some ugly truths and not a few political ambitions in a land rich with potential: "Sometimes it seemed the war had taken a breather, then sent its unfinished business west and north." Joe takes up the cause of the dead, relentless in his pursuit, the action moving between Joe's investigation and the activities in the miner's camp the year before the massacre, a grim picture of their daily lives, determination and skills and the hardships endured, men with dreams and ambitions, joys and sorrows.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Vicki Megginson on January 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story and characters reveal bit by bit, which each chapter bringing further understanding into the history of the pioneer northwest, Chinese work force, post Native American warrior time and the human characteristics of the individuals from ambition, greed, prejudice, honor, loyalty and evil. I found myself unable to turn off my reading light at the usual time and thinking about the book during the work day. Many books I have read informed and others have entertained me, but Deep Creek resides among a small number that have influenced and deepened my understanding.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Virgil Howarth on February 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a biased review. Will Howarth, one of the authors of this book, outlined the story line to me over a beer at a hotel bar in Austin, Texas over twenty years ago while on a research trip for an upcoming article for National Geographic. I knew then if properly done, it had the potential to become a great novel.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the few to read the first draft of this book and after reading it, I knew they had pulled it off. The other reviews have more than adequately described the characters and story line in this novel. My only contribution is a selfish one. Being one of the millions that derive a great deal of pleasure between two hard covers of a book, I can only hope they follow up this one with many more.

Virgil Howarth
Austin, Tx.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Barbara J. Mitchell VINE VOICE on February 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This excellent novel is based on a true story, a tragedy which occurred on the Oregon side of Snake River south of Lewiston, Idaho, in 1887. Several of the characters were real people and all of the characters are wonderfully drawn, fully evolved representatives of western types.

The story begins as Judge Joe Vincent and his daughter go fishing and find a dead, mutilated Chinese man. Then more bodies are found, evidence of a mass murder of terrible proportions which will greatly affect Vincent and everyone he knows.

It is also the story of how Indians, half-breeds, and Chinese people were abused and persecuted as not fully human.

Once I got into the story and felt like I knew the main characters, I simply couldn't put the book down. Dana Hand's clean, spare composition beautifully depicts the time and place. I highly recommend Deep Creek.
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