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review 2019-07-09 20:06
A Matter of Malice / Thomas King
A Matter of Malice - Thomas King

When a TV producer asks Thumps to assist with an episode about a local woman from a wealthy family whose death was ruled “misadventure,” he is reluctant to get involved. Then the producer dies in the exact same manner, and Thumps finds himself solving two cases.

Can a reality TV show solve a cold case?

The crew of a true-crime reality TV show, Malice Aforethought, shows up in Chinook to do an episode about the death of Trudy Samuels. Trudy’s death had originally been ruled accidental, but with ratings in mind, one of the producers, Nina Maslow, wants to prove it was murder. And she wants Thumps to help. Thumps is reluctant to get involved until Nina dies in the exact same place and in the exact same way as Trudy. Are the two deaths related? Or are there two murderers on the loose in Chinook? Thumps uses Nina’s Malice Aforethought files to try to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, and in the process discovers that she had already started work on another case close to Thumps' heart: the Obsidian murders.


Sometimes it’s not a good idea to read two books in a series so close together. I put a hold on this book at my library right after finishing Cold Skies: A DreadfulWater Mystery and I regret nothing! Thumps DreadfulWater is an excellent character and King has created a wonderful supporting cast for him in the town of Chinook, Montana. 

A reality television film crew comes to Chinook to poke about in an old, unhealed case. Was it a murder? A suicide? Can anyone find out this many years later? Thumps is the man for the cold case and Sheriff Duke Hockney makes sure that he can’t escape the assignment. Really, all they have to do is engage the problem solving part of Thumps’ brain, and he is hooked until the thing is solved. Now, if only he would put that much effort into his own health!

I was a little disappointed to have the Freeway/Pops (cat and dog) storyline fade out of this book, but I guess it’s kind of like the advice not to act with children or animals….they kind of stole the show in the last book, but in a good way. Somehow I don’t think Freeway can be counted out of things entirely. Who knows what will happen after the next book? Freeway and Claire seem to have some similarities and Claire will be gone for a while too. Long enough for Thumps to take care of his unfinished business, perhaps?

I can hardly wait for the next installment The Obsidian Murders: A DreadfulWater Mystery next year. If we’re lucky, Mr. King won’t be done with Thumps at that point!

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review 2019-06-30 20:47
Cold Skies / Thomas King
Cold Skies - Thomas King

Thumps DreadfulWater has finally found some peace and quiet. His past as a California cop now far behind him, he’s living out his retirement as a fine-arts photographer in the small town of Chinook. His health isn’t great, and he could use a new stove, but as long as he’s got his cat and a halfway decent plate of eggs, life is good.

All that changes when a body turns up on the eve of a major water conference and the understaffed sheriff’s department turns to Thumps for help. Thumps wants none of it, but even he is intrigued when he learns the deceased was developing a new technology that could revolutionize water and oil drilling . . . and that could also lose some very powerful people a lot of money. As strangers begin to pour into Chinook for the conference, Thumps finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into a conflict between secretive players who will kill to get what they want.


What do you do when a Thumps DreadfulWater novel arrives for you at the public library? Why, you clear your schedule of course and proceed to devour it in one sitting.

Thomas King is such an excellent writer, managing to combine colourful characters with an interesting plot, numerous entertaining sub-plots and sly commentary on contemporary society. These mystery novels are a joy to read.

In this third installment, I found Thumps’ cat, Freeway, and his new neighbour’s dog, Pops, to be stars of the show. 

”Thumps was pretty sure that Pops was a dog.
“He’s a Komondor,” said Dixie. “Real friendly, but he tends to fart a bit.”....
Thumps started to say something about photographs and computers when he was suddenly dropped into a septic tank.
“Sorry,” said Dixie. “That’s Pops. The move has been hard on him.”
Thumps had to blink several times to clear his vision.”

Of course, Freeway becomes enamoured of the dog.

Freeway was not a fresh air enthusiast. She preferred the luxuries of a toilet with water in the bowl, a soft sofa to scratch, a dish full of food, and a carpet upon which to puke.

As soon as the dog heard his name, he struggled to his feet, spilling Freeway off his head. The cat took the disturbance in stride. She rolled onto one side and leisurely licker her groin. Lovely. The queen at her toilette.”

The friendship between cat and dog manages to cheekily comment on Thumps’ unsteady relationship with Claire, and by extension on the majority of man-woman relationships. Without making a big deal of it, King also manages to comment on the habit of using vehicles as status symbols, the house beautiful & renovation trend, the “progress” of technology, foodie culture, and the tendency of city people to judge/underestimate people in rural or small town communities.

Sheriff Duke Hockney is particularly entertaining in this book and it is worth reading just for his part in it. Unbelievably, there are copies of the fourth volume available right now at my library and I have put a hold on that title. The only disappointment is that then I will be all up to date and will not have a DreadfulWater mystery to look forward to until the Master pens another one. Please, Mr. King, may I have some more? 

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review 2019-06-11 21:59
The Red Power Murders / Thomas King
The Red Power Murders - Thomas King

Thumps DreadfulWater has never liked surprises—even the good ones are annoying. So it’s no shock that a string of seemingly random occurrences is causing Thumps some real discomfort. First Noah Ridge, the Red Power Native activist, arrives in Thumps’ sleepy town of Chinook. Then the body of a retired FBI agent turns up at the local Holiday Inn. In the background hovers the ghostly presence of Lucy Kettle, second-in-charge of the Red Power movement, a tough woman in a tough place until her disappearance years ago. Now the sheriff wants Thumps to trade in his photography gig for a temporary cop beat. And it won’t be over, Thumps soon realizes, until everyone’s dead—or famous.

Hailed by critics in his first appearance, Cherokee ex-cop Thumps DreadfulWater is back in rumpled but razor-sharp form, doing his laconic, comic best to avoid trouble—and catch the bad guys. Bestselling writer Thomas King has penned a second entertaining DreadfulWater mystery, injected with the author’s characteristic dry wit and biting social commentary.


Thomas King is such a good writer! I’m loving these murder mysteries of his, starring Thumps DreadfulWater. We get both a good, convoluted mystery and a dose of King’s irreverent humour. Plus, he manages to tackle social issues that he cares about without getting preachy and without info dumps. For example, the reader just gets to witness the behaviour of the bigoted white deputy of the little village of Chinook and draw their own conclusions. 

I’m particularly fond of the elder Moses, who has a whole collection of old trailers out behind his house and many old computers too. With his younger associate, Stick, they often go out to check the internet, or as Moses puts it, consult with the Nephews. No matter when Thumps arrives, the elder is always expecting him, tea brewed and ready to consult. I’m also partial to Cooley Small Elk, the huge man who may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but who can knock down the shed to find what he’s looking for. King writes the best side characters!

King sticks with many aspects of the murder mystery recipe. Poor old Thumps is perpetually unlucky in love, has difficulty getting along with the sheriff, and always seems to be close to broke. But he has a cop’s mind and instincts and can’t seem to disengage once a problem presents itself. 

I can hardly wait to get my paws on book three. Thank you, Mr. King, for a great deal of reading pleasure!

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review 2019-03-11 15:45
DreadfulWater Shows Up / Thomas King
DreadfulWater Shows Up - Hartley GoodWeather

From award-winning literary author Thomas King (aka Hartley GoodWeather) comes a stylish mystery debut featuring ex-California cop Thumps DreadfulWater, a smart and savvy Cherokee Indian whose witty exterior belies a clever, stubborn sleuth.

With his cop life officially behind him, Thumps now makes his living as a fine-arts photographer in Chinook — a western town snuggled up against a reservation that's struggling for economic independence via investment in a glitzy new resort and casino complex called Buffalo Mountain. It's a slow-paced, good life for Thumps and his eccentric cat, Freeway. Most of the time. But when a dead body turns up in one of the just-completed luxury condos, things change fast — and not for the better. Photographing corpses is not part of Thumps's master plan.



A delightful mystery, written by one of my favourite writers, Thomas King, under his silly pseudonym Hartley GoodWeather. He was obviously having fun with this mystery novel and indulging his wonderful sense of humour. But King just seems to write gorgeously under any circumstances and this story was a wonderful way to spend a Friday evening after what felt like an interminable week at work.

Thumps DreadfulWater is a non-detective, or so he keeps saying. A former policeman who couldn’t solve a murder that impacted him personally, he has moved into a small town in the North West States (it’s not clear yet exactly where Chinook is located, although that name would hint that it’s east of the Rockies) and he has switched professions, becoming a photographer.

I heard King interviewed on radio about Thumps’ name—Mr. King apparently subscribed to a magazine by phone and spelled his name carefully. When he received the first issue, it was addressed to Thumps King, so he concluded that the person who took his information had pretty poor handwriting, to turn Thomas into Thumps. However, it was too good a name to just let go of.

I read the whole thing in one evening and it was just the antidote to a stressful week. I’ve already put a hold on the next book in the series (and I’m not the only one, I am number 20 in line for 3 copies, so it will be a while). I’m also glad to hear that Mr. King has plans to write further adventures of Thumps DreadfulWater and I look forward to reading them all!

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