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A Hummingbird Dance

by Garry Ryan

On the first anniversary of the murder of First Nations teen Alex Starchild, a cowboy’s horse returns home to its ranch without its rider. It doesn’t take detectives Lane and Harper long to connect the disappearance to the still-unsolved Starchild case. While Lane tries to make a home for his troubled niece, who is on the run from the polygamist community of Paradise, other townspeople begin to disappear, and bodies are found. Each is linked to the year-old murder, and the community begins drawing lines between race, culture, and property.
    Misfits are at the heart of A Hummingbird Dance. In this third novel from Calgary’s Garry Ryan, winner of the 2007 Lambda Award for Gay Mystery, understanding these throwaway children, who are cast aside because of illness, sexuality, or skin colour, is the key to solving an escalating series of disappearances and murders.
    Ryan peppers his chapters with newspaper articles covering the case, drawing on the media-generated culture of fear to ratchet up the tension, but character trumps crime in this story. Lane and Harper are more likely to share a cup of coffee with their suspects than toss them over the hood of a car. In an interesting turn, the witness to Starchild’s murder, a young puppeteer, gives voice to her dead friend with a marionette. Through her performance, both readers and detectives are shown what the world has lost.
    After Ryan has shown his readers the lengths we will travel to defend what we view as our own, it is refreshing to see harmony and justice receive equal billing.