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Dire Salvation Paperback – May 14, 2012
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Top customer reviews
Each short chapter is based on a single day and is seen from the eyes of a different character--often local police officer, Greg Takarchuk (a Ukrainian name, not a Northwest Indian one), and small-town mayor, Phil Bianchi.
The story is more fully enriched by two love stories, the fixed relation between Takarchuk and his distant girlfriend, Olga Kirilenko, and the growing affection between Bianchi and Calla Ogden, a social worker with unique insights into the locals--the trustworthy and the less trustworthy.
And many of these locals live under troubling constraints, against which some of them kick. There is Jason Ferris, whose situation is far more complex than it would at first appear and who holds his cards suspiciously close to his chest. Janice ("Marie") Casey is decidedly more involved in strange, half-Indian rituals than may be good for anyone. And her colleague Sven, commonly known as "Swede," is more than the simple-minded workman he at first seems.
So there is a grand world of socially acceptable and less socially acceptable characters who play their parts here. And Neff's careful descriptions of what goes on--including the dramatic, superstition-come-alive climax--are real "grabbers."
It all comes to a relatively happy close, however. Olga, arriving for a two-day stay, draws a fitting conclusion regarding the book's sometimes troubling world: "No place is perfect, except in imagination. Besides, if we want [the next few days] to become something more than just a visit, experiences we both have should be ours together. Not yours. Not mine. Ours."
And so they agree to collaborate on celebrating their separate experiences. Similarly, readers of Neff's delicious book will garner an exciting view of other lives to celebrate themselves.
Professor (Emeritus) of English
California State University-Chico
Neff purposely leaves you hanging at the end of the book ... I'm hoping for a soon-to-appear sequel!
DIRE SALAVATION takes place in the Cascade Mountains of Central Washington and so it goes with out saying that that some of the characters and concepts are going to be on American Indian extraction. This is a murder mystery whose inception is in the opening sentences: The young brother of Social Worker Calla, Lonny (a young lad with social problems and run ins with the law) is being held for as a person of interest for a murder. Enter the titular Mayor of the little town that admixes Yakama Indians with non-Indians - Phil Bianchi by name - who works with a junior police officer Greg Tararchuk to investigate the situation. The `murder' is found to be due to the ingestion of a chocolate chip cookie laced with an hallucinogenic drug DMT (dimethyltryptamine) known by the locals as `Salvation'. How this collection of people work with the fish hatchery folk to solve the strange death brings in all manner of Indian lore: Lonny is terrified of the Indian idea of Stick-showers - `mysterious, huge, nocturnal people who are devious and rarely seen' - who figure well into the atmosphere of this novel. And it is just this sort of admixture of science and lore and legend and superstition that keeps this fast story churning. Yes, there are love elements (Calla falls for Phil, Greg and his relationship with girlfriend Olga play an important role), and there is a terrific sense of family solidarity that literally leads us to the edge as threats of danger abound.
Neff adds dollops of small town mentality (good and bad), backwoods policing as well as backwoods business and bars and tosses in some contemporary outside world pieces such as computers to his story of the Indian heritage of the Cascades and the survival of the `white folk' in a manner that keeps the reader fascinated and learning in addition to being supremely entertained. Neff knows his business in writing of this style. This is a terrific read! Grady Harp, June 12
Most recent customer reviews
By Charles B. Neff
Dire Salvation by Charlie Neff was a thoroughly enjoyable summertime read.Read more