10. Indian Killer

by Sherman Alexie

This one is a thriller with sometimes brutal, sometimes mystical prose. It is haunted by hundred plus year old Indian rage, at times a sort of forceful undercurrent in the novel and at others the very topic being discussed by the characters. But just like other thrillers, I was left in the dark about the awful culprit's identity and motives. Good stuff.

It's set in Seattle and the nearby Spokane Indian reservation, both of which are dealing with on-going festering tensions between whites and Indians. Someone is committing brutal murders with a knife, scalping the victims and leaving two owl feathers behind as a signature. Is it an Indian or some nutter trying to make it seem like an Indian did it? Alexie introduces a variety of characters who might have motive. All of them are either Indian, white people pretending to be Indians, white people that hate Indians, or, in the case of the main character, an Indian raised by white people (and who doesn't know what tribe he's from). As is the case with all of Alexie's work, no matter what genre he dabbles in, this is a novel deeply immersed in the problems of Indian identity.

Alexie is not known for this type of thriller, but he does a great job building suspense and creating some interesting/horrific crimes. It is a page-turner and sufficiently weird and inexplicable for me to have enjoyed it like all of his work. Like the title, for example. I spent the whole novel wondering if the title should be Killer Indian or Indian Killer. I won't say any more about that, though. That should be your problem as I do recommend this one for sure.

A young Indian to a white college professor who is irresponsibly teaching a "Native American Literature" course:

"If Crazy Horse, or Geronimo, or Sitting Bull came back...They would start a war....They'd listen to some dumb-shit Disney song and feel like hurting somebody....if the Ghost Dance worked ...All you white people would disappear. All of you. If those dead Indians came back to life...They'd kill you. They'd gut you and eat you heart."


Dan said...

I am in. I love the whole thriller thing...and Alexie is pretty awesome.
I should be able to squeeze it into my list somewhere in 2011. LOL

Crumbolst said...

I'll send it to you! I owe you one anyway.