Sunday, October 15, 2006

Murder on the Ridge

Murder on the Ridge, by Ted Stenhouse

YA/Canadian/Historical/Mystery/something else

Sequel to: Across the Steel River and A Dirty Deed

In Murder on the Ridge we follow Will, a white boy, and Arthur, a Blackfoot, as the two friends navigate interracial friendship in a, 1952 small town bordering a reserve, Canada. The two are, apparently, also the stars of Stenhouse's first two mystery books, which I have not read. In Murder on the Ridge, the boys investigate a possible murder alleged to have taken place on Vimy Ridge during April 1917. The victim is Wolfleg, a Blackfoot who married a white woman only to have her father try desperately to get rid of him. By giving Wolfleg land, his father-in-law ensured his participation in the war. But, could he have done more to ensure that Wolfleg would not return? A mysterious letter seems to show Wolfleg was the victim of foul play. Will and Arthur set out to investigate, and they set a series of events in action that threaten to rip apart their own friendship, and also to ignite old hatreds and arguments in the town.

The book is listed for grade 5-8, but I think more grade 7-11. There is a certain knowledge of history assumed here that children in grade 5 just don't have. There are also difficult and violent moments that would be hard to take in. On the whole, I found the story gripping. But, getting into it was a bit of a slog. I think a lot of kids will put it down before they get to the good parts because the lead up is just a bit boring. That said, it is a good look at Canadian race relations from a perspective that kids don't often get the chance to experience.

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