A swift timeline and memorable characters bring Charles B. Neff’s novel, Dire Salvation, to life for the reader. A man is dead. A social worker’s troubled brother is accused. And a tiny town on the edge of Yakama Indian territory threatens to split apart as neighbors, and even the cops, pile assumption on insinuation.
The author clearly knows his small towns and the Cascade Mountains. The scenery is evocative, and the mystery’s truly intriguing. Characters are depicted with a pleasing sympathy and honesty, from the young cop wondering if he wants to commit to a relationship, to the woman already overcommitted to caring for her brother and her clients, to political mayor and mysteriously secretive computer geek.
The wealth of characters may seem slightly overwhelming as they come together from different backgrounds and nations, each seeking their individual salvations in this place. But deliverance comes under many guises as the mystery unfolds—love, story, mysticism, duty, hope, hard work and honest friendship being but a few. By the novel’s end there’s a certain satisfaction to seeing all these threads drawn together after the excitement of the chase, while the false salvations of drug use, abuse and retaliation all fall down.
Flowing with well-researched detail from an author who knows what he’s writing about, enlivened by pleasing dialog and enjoyably flawed human characters, and gratifyingly honest in its treatment of those flaws, Dire Salvation is an enjoyable read—slightly slow at times, slightly over-populated till the bad guys fall, but genuinely fascinating, intriguing and exciting.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.