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Hopsquatch by Michael Newton
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432825966
Date: 19 September 2012

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Prolific wrier Michael Newton offers a new twist on Sasquatch (Big Foot) when his hero, county sheriff Jason Pruitt, sets out to solve the mysterious murder of a rich man. More mayhem and deaths follow as environmentalists, loggers, the FBI, and a rival for sheriff in the forthcoming election complicate matters in the town of Evergreen, Oregon.

A refugee from Portland and an ex-police officer, Pruitt finds the attractions of Cora Copeland, owner of a gift shop, makes the town of Evergreen and the sheriff's job irresistible. Now running for his third term, Pruitt knows he must solve this case before the election. An ex-cop from Seattle wants his job and believes he can crack the case before Pruitt, provided no one catches him snooping.

The victim, Paul Braithwaite, had a slew of enemies. A number of people want him dead because they consider him a womanizer, a ruthless businessman, or, in the view of the local native tribe and environmentalists, a destroyer of old growth forests. However, Evergreen depends on his firm, Paul Bunyan Logging, which also employs many of those citizens.

Evidence from the autopsy of Braithwaite indicates a large hand, larger than anyone known to the sheriff, twisted the victim's head almost off. This fuels rumors of Sasquatch, which brings a cryptozoologist to investigate. The man searches for evidence of Sasquatch, but find more than he expects.

The FBI blames eco-terrorists. They also claim jurisdiction over the reservation and its population. They order Pruitt to stay out of the investigation. Meanwhile, Pruitt's political rival approaches the mayor and the head of Paul Bunyan Logging seeking political and monetary support in his campaign against Pruitt.

The Nahanni's shaman claims to have evoked the spirit of the forest, Omah. Thus, rumors of Sasquatch do not surprise him. A visit from a huge creature sends him running in fear for his life.

Fawn Zapata, a member of EarthNow!, believes in action against the loggers at any cost and has instigated tree spiking to stop logging. After a fight with three big loggers, the triplets, named after the Three Stooges, in a local bar, she concocts a plan to bomb the empty loggers' camp with a mortar.

A police procedural set in a small town, Hopsquatch offers the sheriff opportunity to exercise big-city skills. While the novel contains no overt sex, there is plenty of innuendo. The language suits the nature of the characters and is explicit at times. Newton plants sly hints, but most readers will find the ending surprising and satisfying. He leaves the readers wondering about Sasquatch/Omah.

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