Review

Dakota

by Martha Grimes

One
of the best parts of starting any new book is the anticipation of
what comes next. Will you greet old friends to stroll through
familiar haunts and join in their adventures? Will an entirely new
world come to life with exciting new people in new places? When the
novel is by a seasoned series author like Martha Grimes, whose
strongest suit is developing memorable characters in interesting
places, you can be sure of one thing: you’re in for a good
read.


In DAKOTA, Grimes brings back a truly remarkable young woman by the
name of Andi Oliver, first created in BITING THE MOON, a
stand-alone novel released in 1999. Andi comes to us as fresh as
any character can possibly be. She woke up in a Santa Fe motel not
knowing who or where she was, where she had been, and with no
identity or clues to her past. This is the way we meet new
characters in fiction all the time, relying on the author to fill
in the back story. Andi is unique in that she has to make up her
own identity to survive, thus creating her own back story. And what
an imagination she has! She invents an entirely fictional wealthy
Long Island family, which makes for amusing moments as she tries to
remember non-existent siblings and past events. So our Andi is
creating herself in her own fiction. Now there’s a
new twist!


Andi is one of many heroines Grimes has brought us outside of her
well-loved Richard Jury mysteries. No setting could be further from
the cozy firesides in the famous English pubs of her mystery books
than the wide open plains of the American West. Fans have asked so
often if she was going to write another novel about Andi that she
decided the young woman with the cast iron backbone and an affinity
for abused animals had more adventures to share. After surviving in
the wilds of New Mexico and Idaho, Andi is on the road again,
hitchhiking through the Dakota plains. She works her way northwest
through waitressing jobs to sustain her minimalist lifestyle and
finds herself in a remote North Dakota town whose main industry is
a factory farm --- a hog containment industry where pigs are raised
for area packing plants.


Andi, who has already killed a man in Idaho in self-defense, seems
to be a magnet for trouble, and she stirs up the suspicions of the
local townspeople by rescuing an abandoned donkey belonging to a
local rancher and scuffling with his bullying sons, which brings
the local sheriff into the picture. She is befriended by an aging
local rancher who provides food and shelter in return for mucking
stalls for his livestock and exercising his racehorse, Dakota. When
she goes to work at the factory farm, she witnesses how cruelly the
animals are treated and tries to bring about changes. Already being
shadowed by someone from her unknown past, she becomes the target
of the factory farm management, who see her as a threat to their
enterprise. The novel builds to high suspense when the man from her
past and a hired killer from the factory farm get her in their gun
sights.


Grimes, a long-time vegetarian, is donating a significant amount of
her royalties from DAKOTA to select animal rights groups. As a
long-time meat eater who especially enjoys a rack of ribs or a
juicy steak, I must admit that my eyes were opened by this novel.
It is not a diatribe or soap box, but those pristine packages of
clear-wrapped chops and steaks look a little different to me now. I
found myself Googling vegetarian recipes after I closed the book on
the last chapter.


   









Reviewed by Roz Shea on December 29, 2010

Dakota
by Martha Grimes

  • Publication Date: February 12, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0670018694
  • ISBN-13: 9780670018697