As a self-published author, the little time I have for literary pursuits is limited. I rarely have time to read works of others, let alone find time to write for myself. I know two writers personally, all the others I’ve met online. One of those writers is my sister, who has yet to release her story. The other is good friend, Steven Wright, that I met back in the 1980’s, only to lose communications with over 20 years and later to discover we had both moved back to Oklahoma, our son’s were in the same fraternity at the University of Oklahoma, and that we each had written a story. I promised to read and review Steven’s story.
First, let me say that I have the utmost respect for anyone who will share their stories with the fear of being reviewed and criticized. As a self-published author myself, I make mistakes, but I want to share a story and then let the reader decide if they liked it. I’ve read some of the most highly acclaimed stories, only to shake my head and wonder why I wasted so much time. Steven’s story could be polished more with the help of a beta readers group. Some of the grammar and plot issues could have been caught and corrected in advance of printing. It is difficult to write a book, but even harder to edit it. On a scale of 5, I give it a 3 for grammar and some plot development, but this is easily corrected. With this said, I want to concentrate on the story.
Native Crimes is an original and imaginative story that blends true historical events woven into the life of an orphaned child named, Payat, now an adult graduating college, none other than the University of Oklahoma. Payat’s Apache lineage leads to a journey of self-discovery and the unveiling of a family secret. What makes this story original is that it blends events I had no idea existed, such as the Yale secret society of Skull and Bones involving Prescott Bush, patriarch of the Bush family – who were reported to have stolen items from Geronimo’s grave, including a knife that provided him with invisibility. While you are reading chapters of historical basis, the next chapter might be developing plot and character around these events and the powers of the knife. I found this to be very clever and turned to the Internet to read these stories.
The chief antagonist of the story is Tuno, a native without a tribal identity, addicted to meth, with an almost demonic need to kill anyone in his way, including Payat’s mother. Now an adult, Payat is targeted by Tuno to discover the whereabouts of the knife. A college classmate, Julie, joins Payat in his search for his past and is drawn into the string of events that lead to more murders. The path of death leads from Oklahoma to the Mescalero Apache lands of New Mexico. Oddly enough, Steven’s description of those lands was based on a trip he made to Roswell, New Mexico. I lived in Ruidoso for over 3 years, so I could envision from his descriptions the events unfolding before my eyes.
Steven’s most poignant part of the book comes from a retelling of the Trail of Tears. A history most of us are aware of and ashamed of. Its retelling connects us emotionally to Payat, who looks desperately to find himself, questioning his Christian upbringing and the ways of the Apache people. Here Steven displayed his best writing skills.
Without giving too much away, the story is further complicated with the historical events surrounding the Lost Dutchman mines and yes, the Roswell UFO incident. It is at the end of the story that a conglomeration of secrets are revealed why Tuno not only wants the knife, but Mexican Drug Cartels and clandestine powers in the federal government. Here Payat reaches manhood and finds his inner Apache warrior, and to find peace with himself and to lay to rest unanswered questions of his lineage, faith, and his mother’s death.
In this age of comic book reboots, oversexed teenage vampires, and other formula novels – Native Crimes stands out – unique and imaginative, worthy of being read, worthy of exploring how our past shapes our future, and a reminder of our past. I found the story to be very respectful of Native Americans and keeps many of their traditions alive and well. On a scale of 5, I give the story’s originality a 4.5. I was entertained and made to think.
Good job Steven! Thank you for sharing your imagination with me. Now get busy writing your next story.
To learn more about Steven Wright and Native Crimes: