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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review - The American Cafe

I saw this book somehow somewhere and just had to read it. If you have followed this blog for very long you know I enjoy Native American mysteries so this series got my attention.  Let's go to Oklahoma to join Cherokee amateur sleuth Sadie Walela.

Author:  Sara Sue Hoklotubbe

Copyright: April 2011 (University of Arizona Press ) 208 pgs

Series: 2nd in Sadie Walela Mysteries

Sensuality:  n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy, Amateur Sleuth

Main Character:  Sadie Walela, new owner of a cafe

Setting: Modern day, small town Liberty Oklahoma (Cherokee Country)

Obtained Through: Library Find

Sadie follows a dream and purchases a cafe in Liberty from Goldie Ray.  Goldie wants to retire and enjoy life a little while she can since her health is failing.  Before Sadie has a chance to re-open the cafe, Goldie is murdered in her home.  The local crazy woman seems the easy candidate for the killer but Sadie has the eyes of a newcomer and several things don't add up.  Goldie's sister and niece show up to add to the confusion with their dysfunctional.

The previous book in the series Sadie had met policeman Lance Smith when she was in the banking industry.  Without knowing it they have both relocated to Liberty.  Lance is the new deputy for the incompetent police chief who is quick to pin the murder on the emotionally unbalanced local woman.  Lance, like Sadie, doesn't believe it is that easy.  It becomes obvious that Sadie has somebody out to scare her away which puts Sadie in some scary situations.

This book surpassed my expectations.  Sadie is one of those characters who is easy to love.  From the beginning of the book I immediately fell into step with Sadie.  Lance is a dedicated policeman who is smart and smitten with Sadie.  The population of Liberty filters through the cafe and some are fascinating and offer secondary story lines.  There is the Creek native gentleman, Red, who has a great part in the story.

The plot has some good twists.  I felt sure I had figured out a key piece to the plot only to be surprised.  The confrontation with the killer is good and tense and there are some bitter sweet nuances as well.  This is one of those rare books that meshes setting, people, plot and cultures into a seamless yet layered story.  The initial impression is deceptive in that it seems a cozy story but has several aspects that stay with you well after you have finished.  I have not been this won over by an author in a long time.  If you enjoyed Tony Hillerman, Craig Johnson, or Margaret Coel I would highly recommend this book.

One request of the author, please don't let us wait long before the next book. I am anxious to know what Sadie does next.

Walela means hummingbird in Cherokee.  The pop artist Rita Coolidge was in a Native American music group named Walela - which I own two of their CDs.  This is Walela singing the Cherokee Morning Song, one of my favorites.

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Sara Hoklotubbe said...

Many thanks for this wonderful review of THE AMERICAN CAFE! You honor me with your kind words.

I am currently working on the third book in the Sadie Walela Mystery Series and I think you will like it, too.

Sara Sue Hoklotubbe

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