Black Drop, the fourth novel in Susan Stoner’s Sage Adair mystery series hits the bookstores this month. Set in the Pacific Northwest during the 1900s, Adair, an undercover agent for the Labor movement, is the hot on the trail of a would-be assassin. President Theodore Roosevelt is the target as he makes his tour of the area. If that assignment isn’t daunting enough, during his investigation, the detective stumbles upon a group of community leaders involved in a child sex ring. Mayhem ensues as Adair attempts to foil both schemes, a feat that places those dear to him in harm’s way.
“A page turner,” is the only way to describe this new saga and for someone like myself, who has never been a history buff, it’s a palatable way to learn about the period. Stoner’s research offers a creditable tableau of life during a rough and tumble era and provides colorful glimpses of its societal strata, including a burgeoning Chinese population. The legitimate and illegitimate interactions of diverse actors makes for unpredictable outcomes.
Stoner’s style goes down well, too — crisp Hemingway-like sentences salted with enough imagery to create her unique voice. The reader’s eyes glide easily down the pages of this well-laid plot because we know who some of the villains are at the outset. The tension lies in wondering how the protagonist will juggle the many intrigues barreling down on him. We may suspect Adair will triumph in the end but how he achieves resolution comes in a series of fast-paced twists and turns. The reader is in for some hair raising experiences which make the price for the book, $14.95, a bargain.
(Courtesy of Yamhill Press.)