Stanley Evans, Seaweed on the Street

With a title like Seaweed on the Street, you'd be excused if you thought maybe Stan Evans' 2005 book was a chapbook of stereotypical West Coast natural/urban hippie poetry (not that I've seen many example of that sort of thing in years, and not that I'd mind reading that sort of thing anyway), but you'd be wrong in almost every way: it's the first book in Evans' mystery series featuring Coast Salish detective Silas Seaweed, a member of the Victoria Police Department.

And it's such a good read, such a well-crafted story, that it's made me rethink my feelings about TouchWood Editions. I'm a fan and supporter of small presses, but I've had some bad luck over the years with my choices from TouchWood, so much so that it has been affecting my purchase decisions. Evans' novel, though, is much more polished and accomplished than my other recent reads from them, so effective immediately I'm deleting that particular spam filter on my debit card. (First candidate for purchase: Bill Terry's Blue Heaven: Encounters with the Blue Poppy. What? Hey, now don't call me that!)

Reasons to like the novel, apart from the level of suspense that's essential for a mystery novel to work properly:
  • Seaweed's simultaneous way and bad luck with the ladies
  • Evans' handling of Seaweed's life as a contemporary Salish man, which blends a modern life like any other with traditional Salish practices (which Evans says are carefully restricted in the novels to practices publicly known and in the public domain, so to speak, in spite of any additional knowledge Evans may have about elements that aren't part of the public conversation)
  • the minor characters, many of whom are rendered successfully with great economy, and
  • Seaweed's credible unpredictability, which I appreciated greatly in comparison to mystery novels that substitute randomness for unpredictability, or whose unpredictability simply isn't believable.
Plus Stan Evans is just a good guy, as our book club found out last week! I've already loaned out my copy of this book, and I know a few people I'll have to buy it for. Seaweed's just trying to make his way in a complicated world, and I get that.


Anonymous said…
Richard, I think you'll love Blue Heaven. Bill is a friend of mine and when his poppies are in bloom in Sechelt, it truly is blue heaven. (He puts a sign out among the ones that grow in a small area outside his main garden,adjacent to a public trail, saying "These are not opium poppies. Please do not pick."
Theresa K.
Ann said…
I stopped by your blog today - great review.
richard said…
Thanks for the recommendation, Theresa -- one of these days!

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