Review: ‘Snare’ by Deborah J. Ledford

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

Books on the Nightstand

My nightstand has so many books on it, there’s hardly enough room left over for the reading lamp and the alarm clock. I sleep better when there are plenty of yet-to-be-read books there. When they’re gone, I’m worse than a chain smoker who’s run out of cigarettes.

Running out of books is not an option. After finishing Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” I started reading two books simultaneously since one of them is on my computer. Yes, I know, if I had a Kindle, I could read e-books in bed.

By night, I’m reading Montana Mist: Winter of the White Wolf by Doug Hiser. In addition to the wolves, this novel is filled with memorable characters and mountains. I couldn’t resist.

Publisher’s Description

In the remote Montana wilderness, a mountain man, once a professional athlete, lives his life in seclusion protecting and raising orphan wolves until he gives his heart to Sassy, a young woman hitchhiking across America. He guards his secrets and the other woman in his life, a beautiful blind woman, known as “Shy Girl.” The wolf pack roams the mountains as he searches for the white wolf, Mist; that he raised and released into the harsh snowy forested peaks, his ties with the wolves as close as the bond with his new love. Montana Mist is the story of one man’s secrets, the two women in his life, and the wild world of wolves of the remote forest in the last untamed region where man has not put his imprint on the land. A man shaped by the mystery of his past and the complication of his future while the adventure of his heart threatens to destroy his solitary precious world of mountain, wolverine, moose, elk, and wolf.

By day, I’m reading Razor’s Revenge by Paul Chandler. I enjoyed Chandler’s previous novel Peeper, and was happy to see the new release. This is very different (as its cover suggests) from Montana Mist, but equally absorbing.

Publisher’s Description

In 1958, a group of unscrupulous men use fabricated evidence, perjured testimony, and a crooked judge to steal Samuel Razor’s company. For ten years Razor allows them to believe they’ve gotten away with their crime. They continue to believe it until the day Razor comes for them.

Five decades later, Samuel Razor is a billionaire and an icon in the business world. His revenge taken, his youth long gone, and his health rapidly failing, there is one last important thing he wants to accomplish before he leaves this world, one more villain he needs to deal with.

The legal justice system-the very system that made the theft of his company legal and binding-is laughably easy to deceive. All it takes to defeat it is something that any human being can do: tell a lie. And from that lie come lawyers, trials, incompetent verdicts, and inevitably, unsatisfying compromises.

To ensure that the law only serves and does not victimize, there can be no lies, no lawyers, no biased judges. Samuel Razor has the money, the influence, and the motivation to reinvent the system. It will be his last and final act of revenge.

Coming up next, Snare by Deborah J. Ledford. The novel has has been nominated for The Hillerman Sky Award and follows Ledford’s outstanding 2009 novel Staccato.

Publisher’s Description

Native American pop singer/songwriter, Katina Salvo’s career is about to take off. There’s one problem: someone wants to kill her. Katina and her bodyguard, Deputy Steven Hawk, are attacked during an altercation at her first live concert. Could the assailant be a mysterious, dangerous man from her youth? Or her estranged father recently released from prison for killing her mother?

Performed against the backdrop of the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina , and the mysterious Taos Pueblo Indian reservation, SNARE is a thriller fans of Tony Hillerman will appreciate.

These will keep me busy for a little while, though I’m already looking for more so I don’t run out. What great books are waiting on your nightstand that I ought to be considering?

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Malcolm

$4.99 on Kindle