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Descripción de editorial
On a night of torrential rain, a warrior appears near the Colombia River, where the Chinook people thrived before the hydroelectric dams came and changed their entire way of life. He has come to reclaim the river, to return it to its original majesty.
Soon after, government employees are found murdered with elaborate harpoons. As the body count grows, Francine Smohalla, a government marine biologist of Chinook and white descent, embarks on her own investigation of the bizarre murders. As she desperately tries to find the killer and prevent any other murders, she finds herself spinning in the convergence of ethnic hatreds between Indians and whites, an unlikely relationship with a kindred spirit whose troubled life has led him to contemplate terrorism and apocalypse, an ancient prophecy about the return of her beloved salmon, and the giant dams on the Columbia that loom large and as seemingly immovable as the mountains themselves. A River Out of Eden is a gripping literary thriller straight from today’s headlines set against the uniquely American contradictions of the Pacific Northwest.
Like the Y2K apocalypse that never happened, this doomsday thriller goes bust. Hockenberry, Dateline NBC correspondent and author of Moving Violations (nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award), tries to cram too many reportorial themes into his bulging narrative: the displacement of Pacific Northwest Chinook tribes, the questionable merits of salmon hatcheries and federal dams, the dangers of nuclear power and the threat posed by white supremacist fringe groups. There's a plot buried under the mountain of issues, but it's actually more of a highly convoluted premise. A Chinook warrior named Charley Shen-oh-way, long assumed dead, has begun slaughtering employees of a federal salmon hatchery to avenge the government's appropriation of sacred Indian ground. His half-Chinook daughter Francine, director of the hatchery, intuits Charley's involvement in the savage murders and withholds incriminating evidence, aided by her wildly improbable love interest, Duke McCurdy, a white supremacist radio provocateur with a secret heart of gold. Meanwhile, Jack Charnock, an unstable weapons researcher who's at last perfected a portable implosion device, has just been terminated from nearby Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and isn't happy. These and other unsympathetic, one-dimensional characters link up implausibly to announce the novel's themes, even at the most intimate moments ("They have always betrayed me, my mother's eyes," she whispered. "Hate betrays me," Duke whispered back. "Who can escape his tribe?") Even Francine's semicomatose white mother stays on point, robotically intoning the Icelandic word for "big flood." Hockenberry, a one-time radio reporter in the Pacific Northwest, has enthusiastically researched the region, but this silly, pretentious novel doesn't show off either writer or culture to best advantage.