Review: ‘Snare’ by Deborah J. Ledford

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SnareSnare by Deborah J Ledford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Deborah J. Ledford’s “Snare,” book two of the Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela Thriller Series quickly entangles readers who believe young Katina Salvo’s broken past will remain long ago and far away. A popular California songwriter and recording star, Katina has never released photographs and videos or appeared in a live concert because she doesn’t want her fans to know what happened in Valentine, Nebraska on August 29, 1995 at 11:29 p.m.

After convincing her twenty-three-year-old Native American signing sensation she owes her fans a live concert, business manager Petra Sullivan hand-picks a small theater in North Carolina so Katina can debut in a nonthreatening environment.

However, before they leave for the Great Smoky Mountains, Katina discovers that Petra has been hiding threatening fan mail from her. Both overprotective and nurturing, Petra is the mother Katina was never allowed to have. Katina asks if the series of letters is coming from the father she wants to forget.

While Petra maintains the nasty letters are simply a nuisance downside of being famous, Katina is less certain, and wonders what else Petra has been keeping from her. The concert goes forward as scheduled because, as Petra tells Katina, “you can’t hide out forever.” Plus, Katina’s safety is a top priority through the efforts of the sheriff’s point man on the security detail, Deputy Steven Hawk. Hawk also appeared in Ledford’s stunning debut novel “Staccato” (Second Wind Publishing, 2009).

The concert appears to be a triumph until Katina is attacked by a shadowy man in the audience who escapes leaving few clues behind. Katina thinks she knows who it was. Hawk thinks he is responsible for the security lapse. Together, they plan to ensnare the perpetrator. Against the advice of Petra, Hawk’s girl friend and sheriff’s department colleague, Inola, and veteran officer Kenneth Stiles, they fly to the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico where Katina’s past lies hidden.

In “Snare,” Ledford brings her readers a novel of contrasts: Katina’s horrible childhood vs. a successful recording career, people who can be trusted vs. those who follow their own agendas, Native American beliefs vs. mainstream spiritual viewpoints, and the lush beauty western North Carolina vs. the stark beauty of central New Mexico. “Snare” has been nominated for a Hillerman Sky Award, an honor presented to the mystery that best captures the landscape of the Southwest.

While “Snare” does not quite match the bone-chilling punch of “Staccato,” it excels in other ways with deeper character development, a realistic presentation of Native American society and beliefs, and the role of family and friends in the choices one makes. By no means legato, “Snare” provides an ever-tightening story with a realistic, satisfying and unpredictable conclusion

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If you like the Pueblo influences in SNARE, you may also like the Blackfeet influences in GARDEN OF HEAVEN

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