DACA, ICE, wine, and murder in Oregon
“No Witness” is part of the “Cal Claxton” mystery series, but anything that new readers need to know is included in the current narrative. Cal Claxton and Archie, his Australian shepherd, live in the heart of scenic Oregon, beautiful country framed by the Coast Range and the Cascades.
The story is told in Cal’s first person narrative, and readers get to know him well. The investigation, discoveries, and thoughts unfold in chronological order, so readers learn what Cal knows when he knows it. Everyday activities are sprinkled throughout the narrative as he runs errands, gets the week’s shopping done, and builds stone walls. He is a lawyer; to him the law is a thing of beauty, but most of his “lawyering” is tedious, detailed work. Gertie runs the office, but when she suddenly becomes ill, her PhD psychologist niece, Zoe Bennet, takes over that job.
Timoteo Fuentes also helps Cal in the office; he is a DACA Recipient and college student who has his mind set on a career in law. However, when Timoteo’s sister is killed, it is he who needs help from Cal. Since he, his family, and most of their community are “undocumented,” the situation is complex and fragile. Past associations, injuries, accidents, and more deaths complicate everything. However, if Cal can solve one of these problems, he can solve them all. Cal knows secure passwords are necessary, but sometimes it is an advantage to have a password that people who know you very well can eventually guess.
“Cal Claxton” mysteries work because Cal Claxton is a reliable character. Readers know he is solid, dependable, and determined. He has a strong sense of community responsibility and is predictable within a specific framework of conditions. Cal’s sense of justice and accountability is dominant; every book is compelling yet comfortable, unknown yet familiar. I received a review copy of “No Witness” from Warren Easley, Sourcebooks, and Poisoned Pen Press. I recommend the entire series and suggest eating toasted Dave’s Killer Bread with chunky peanut butter while you read.