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Deep Creek

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3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  297 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
Idaho Territory, June 1887. A small-town judge takes his young daughter fishing, and she catches a man. Another body surfaces, then another. The final toll: more than thirty Chinese gold miners brutally murdered. Their San Francisco employer hires Idaho lawman Joe Vincent to solve the case. Soon he journeys up the wild Snake River with Lee Loi, an ambitious young company i ...more
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published April 30th 2010 by Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Barbara Mitchell
This novel is based on a true crime story of the Old West. In 1887 35-40 Chinese miners were massacred at Deep Creek in Hell's Canyon, Oregon along the Snake River. Chinese were generally thought of as something less than human at the time, and Indians hardly more worthy of consideration. Despite this attitude, Joe Vincent, a former judge of Lewiston in Idaho Territory was hired by the Sam Yup company representative, Lee Loi, to investigate the murder of its employees. Vincent in turn hired half ...more
Randy Walzer
Apr 25, 2010 Randy Walzer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs; procedural fans; those who like a novel of conscience
Recommended to Randy by: friends
You have to pay attention all the way through, and be willing to sink into a convincingly recreated West at the very end of frontier days, and also (frankly) be fairly smart to follow a challenging plot and characters that reveal their stories and secrets bit by bit. A jigsaw puzzle of a book, like all good investigations. Highly recommended, but not a conventional or traditional story. Writing is very fine throughout, concise yet freighted with meaning and feeling. I also learned a lot about pl ...more
Lin Browne
Feb 20, 2010 Lin Browne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all who like American fiction; multicultural fiction
Recommended to Lin by: book group
I definitely want to be Grace Sundown when I grow up. Verdict: A keeper. When's the movie?
Ellen Schappe
Feb 25, 2010 Ellen Schappe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a really good story
Recommended to Ellen by: friends
Crime, justice, family, long-lost love: this book has all the elements I like. "Deep Creek" is a fast-moving thriller about a terrible genocidal crime in 1887 Idaho. But it ranks with any historical novel I have read. The villains, male and female, are genuinely scary. The trio of investigators, like their families and friends, are ordinary, likable, fallible people forced into heroism. There's a touch of the supernatural, too, just enough for eeriness, and in the end we witness justice done, th ...more
Andybaines
May 13, 2010 Andybaines rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like a good story that illuminates America then and now
Recommended to Andybaines by: office friends
I don't usually like pre-20th-century historical fiction but I saw the rave review in the Washington Post and decided to try this. I finished it a week ago and am still thinking about it. It's like I lived it. And the fact that it's a dramatization of a real incident makes the novel all the more compelling, IMHO. The writing is very clear (not self-consciously fancy), the present-day parallels are all too strong, and I find I miss the core characters, Joe, Henry and Lee Loi especially. Dana Hand ...more
Rebecca
Feb 19, 2010 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A fictionalized account of a very real, but very forgotten, massacre in the 19th century American West, Hand (really the pen name of writers Will Howarth and Anne Matthews) brings to life not only the hero, GAR veteran, ex-county sheriff and all-around good guy Judge J.K. Vincent, but the nearly 40 Chinese miners so cruelly murdered because of greed. It's rare, even in this day and age, to have a Western with a deeply Eastern--so to speak--heart.
Susannah Sibley
Apr 07, 2010 Susannah Sibley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: intelligent readers with a feel for American history
Recommended to Susannah by: friends
The best historical novel I've read in a long time; great feel for place and time, characters memorable, plot convincing, literary style deceptively accessible but extremely carefully crafted. A book you need to read twice to catch all the subtleties and echoes.
Mark Pedersen
Mar 22, 2010 Mark Pedersen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with an open mind
Recommended to Mark by: friend at work
Completely uncool confession: I feel I am a better person for having read this book.
I also enjoyed the author website: http://www.dana-hand.com/
Suzanne
Sep 05, 2010 Suzanne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this historical novel would be a good choice for my book club because we live near where the event - the Chinese massacre of 1887 - took place. Our group has enjoyed several historical fiction titles and this book got great reviews.

So much for trusting the reviews. No one in the group (myself included) liked the book. A few members didn't even bother to finish it. The only positive thing about this choice was that it did increase the awareness of the actual event.

Reading the book was
...more
J
Jan 12, 2010 J rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.

It's been a couple months since I read this, I'm late at entering it into this journal. So my memory has slipped a bit.

This is the story, based on historical fact, set in the 1880s, of a white man in a small Oregon town who does his best to investigate and prosecute the slaughter of a company of Chinese miners working out on a remote creek.

The white man is police judge Joe Vincent who's as adept as Sherlock Holmes at inhabiting a disguise. He goes undercover to help deduce w
...more
Carolyn Fitzpatrick
Not an easy read, but an easy read would be impossible considering the subject matter. On one hand you have the horrible fate of the Chinese miners, and on the other hand you've got totally apathy about their fate from 99% of the characters in the book. Only the four main characters and a handful of peripheral characters care at all, and they are doomed to be disappointed in the outcome. That being said, the author did a great job of keeping the story engaging, and not burning out the reader. It ...more
Jennifer
Oct 19, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Although the depictions of the murders are gruesome, this is a beautiful read. The main characters (especially Joe) are well-drawn and the story unfolds at a nice pace. The back stories are revealed slowly, adding just a little bit of a thread to the overall weave of the plot, which I liked. The novel also makes readers think about the treatment of those who are different. Hostility against immigrants is nothing new; a sad commentary on how things have not really changed.
Jerry Fields
Aug 31, 2010 Jerry Fields rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Historically very accurate (unfortunately.) Characters all believable, action and plot cleanly constructed and exciting. The sad part is that I can imagine this crime happening in our time too, given the current national mood: American attitudes toward immigrants and strangers have not evolved much since 1887, and this intelligent novel throws light on why this might be.
Dunrie
Feb 10, 2010 Dunrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dunrie by: Dana Hand
Shelves: fiction, history, place
The plot carried me through this book quickly, and now that I'm done I have to set aside time to read it through again. The characters reveal themselves and their relationships gradually, so I'm looking forward to that second read.

Polly Kasper
Jun 06, 2010 Polly Kasper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
The publisher did not label this book well. It is not really a mystery, or a thriller, or a Western. This is literary fiction of a very high order. Not an easy read, but a rewarding one, ambitious and complex.
Corahalsted
May 13, 2010 Corahalsted rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone; this is not a genre Western but a serious novel
Recommended to Corahalsted by: cousin
Excellent historical fiction; I recommend. Exciting, humane and you learn a lot. Nicely done love stories, very scary villains, twisty plot.
Mona Hendy
Jun 06, 2010 Mona Hendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful novel: lean swift writing, some sad US history made vividly real, great villains, and a non-sappy love story about late-life redemption. Co-written, and very well. More, please, soon--
Jan C
Sep 11, 2010 Jan C rated it really liked it
A while back I either heard about this book or the non-fiction book, Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hells Canyon by R. Gregory Nokes, which I will probably now pick up. At any rate, they are both about a massacre of 30-40 Chinese miners in the late 1880s.

There are compelling characters - Judge Joe Vincent, Grace Sundown, Nell. I guess you would call Libby and Vollmer compelling also but not in a very complimentary way.

This was the first I'd ever heard of "ether parties". Ether worked as a le
...more
Iowa City Public Library
Deep Creek is a historical novel that recounts the story of an 1887 massacre of more than 30 Chinese gold miners in a remote area of Idaho along the Snake River. The story begins when a small town judge and former sheriff, Joe Vincent, takes his ten year old daughter, Nell, fishing and Nell ends up snagging a body…and then another one, and another one. The Chinese miners working for the Sam Yup Company have been brutally murdered and their bodies mutilated. Vincent ends up working with a represe ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
A fascinating account that's equally effective as mystery, Western history and character study (Las Vegas Review-Journal), this gripping, complex novel captivated the critics with its moving story, engaging characters, and stark, evocative writing. Building a novel around actual events can be tricky, but these first-time novelists carry it off with aplomb, seamlessly interweaving fact and fiction to fill in the historical gaps. Howarth and Matthews paint a vivid, visceral portrait of the Old Wes ...more
Marvin
Nov 10, 2010 Marvin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Susan Craig recommended this novel, based on a real historical event. In 1886, some 30 Chinese immigrants were murdered along the Snake River in northwest Idaho Territory, just across the river from Oregon. In the novel a 60-something prominent white citizen of Lewiston, Idaho, teams up with a young, Yale-educated Chinese representative of the company for whom the victims worked and a metis guide to try to gather enough evidence to convict the murderers. (It’s not really a mystery because we kno ...more
Cassie
Mar 09, 2010 Cassie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. I probably would have really liked it had I not been so busy with other things. This book has a complicated story line full of political intrigue, historical facts and lots of characters. It's the kind of book where you have to keep at it and not stop or else you find yourself confused. I found myself confused simply because I couldn't devote the time to uninterrupted reading. This book takes place in the late 1800s in the Hell's Canyon area of Idaho and Oregon. I took a famil ...more
April Mcdonald
May 07, 2013 April Mcdonald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful novel. The three worlds are very clear and convincing (white, Native American, Chinese) and I love the deep backstory provided for the main characters, especially the inimitable Grace Sundown. I notice that some reviewers object to the prose style, and the only reason I can imagine is that it is too subtle, especially for people who gobble genre fiction. The book is beautifully written, in the manner of Cather and Hemingway, with deceptively limpid prose covering a great deal of feel ...more
Minetta S.
Feb 12, 2011 Minetta S. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific. A highly intelligent, very well-written novel of social conscience, without being the least preachy or obnoxious--and the most amazing aspect, to my mind, is that is is perfectly in period. I am a U.S. historian, the late 19th century is my particular area, and I can spot no errors of attitude or fact in Dana Hand's re-imagining of a terrible true event in American history. I think this novel is every bit as good as "Wolf Hall," my highest compliment.
Linn
Feb 16, 2013 Linn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Usually I avoid historical novels because of the blatant errors and inadvertent howlers. A colleague persuaded me to take a chance on DEEP CREEK and I am delighted I did: this is one of the finest historical novels I've read (and, yes, enjoyed) in years. I only wish BBC America or HBO would make this story of love and justice into a miniseries. I think it could be outstanding, especially if filmed on location in Hells Canyon.
Tave Mitchell
Jul 23, 2011 Tave Mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really good story, and I like the way you do not find out everything all at once but it dawns on you, along with the investigators. I strongly dislike books that condescend or spoonfeed, and this one respects reader intelligence. The trio of investigators: very appealing. Grace Sundown is especially well done. Highly recommended for anyone who thinks the past is still present in American life.
Evon
Mar 31, 2010 Evon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
based on the fact that the authors are historical writers, this book scares me. corruption and greed have always been a driving factor - especially in government. the realization of reality is so dulled by rhe stimulation we receive from movies/media today that this seems to be nothing but fiction. talk about prejudice and injustice!!
Rob Paxeman
Jan 24, 2011 Rob Paxeman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-novel
At first I thought this would be too liberal (at least for me) but then I really got into it. Villains scary-evil but totally convincing. Good touches of the supernatural throughout. Hard to classify this book: adventure-thriller-historical-romance-Western-race-relations novel-magical realism-justice quest? Anyway. great read. Should be a movie.
Margie Andersen
Dec 12, 2010 Margie Andersen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First-rate. Saw it on the Washington Post "Best Fiction of 2010" list and am glad I did. Excellent novel: historical tale about the price of American justice for all (plus some hungry ghosts, great Snake River mountain scenery, characters you care about, and a touching love story). Will make it a book club choice.
Harriett Petrov
Jan 05, 2011 Harriett Petrov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really fine novel of conscience; loved Grace Sundown and her fierce independence, and also Joe's struggle to do right. This is not a conventional "Western" but contemporary American fiction at its best, just when I'd given up hope of something decent to read (and discuss--my book group loved it--and we are highly educated and very picky--)
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Is Joe a patriot? Is Jackson? 3 9 Feb 25, 2010 09:18AM  
Why does Joe try so hard to ensure justice for the dead Chinese miners? 3 6 Feb 22, 2010 07:51AM  
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