I hope everyone’s new year is starting out better than with me and my family. My oldest son’s cold turned out to be upper respiratory infection. My youngest son was diagnosed with bronchitis, even though he doesn’t have time for that. I had a bout with the stomach virus on Thursday, but I was well by New Year’s Day. Thank goodness!
My first blog for 2017 is spotlighting Kay George, and Death in the Time of Ice. She describes her book as a thriller that contains a classic murder mystery. The fate of the whole Neanderthal tribe depends on good enough hunting to get them through the winter, called the dark season by them. Their leader knows in seed season, they will have to begin following the mammoth that have been disappearing as the Great Ice approaches from the direction of the Guiding Bear of Mother Sky.
Their leader, Hama, the Most High Female, is found stabbed to death. There are several suspects, as her decision to move the tribe was met with stiff opposition from quite a few. There are also, of course, other conflicts that are uncovered during the novel.
Enga Dancing Flower is the main female character. She has passed 17 summers, has flaming read hair, and is the tribe’s best dancer in the evening when they gather around the fire. She and her sister, Ung Strong Arm, one of the best hunters, were taken into the tribe when they were found abandoned as very small children. She was mostly raised by the now dead leader, so she wants to find out what happened to her. She’s also a suspect in the murder, so expulsion and certain death looms.
The main male character is young Jeek, who has only 12 summers and is the birth son of the Healer, Zhoo of Still Waters. He’s a very clever boy and helps Enga figure out who the killer is.
In Kaye’s own words, “The novel was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel of 2013. I’m very proud of that, since it’s not exactly historical, but prehistorical. It takes place in about 30,000 BCE, near the time of the end of the Neanderthals per se, in about 28,000 BCE. (They still live on in everyone of European extraction through interbreeding long, long ago.) I stay true to all the research and discoveries that have recently been made, except for a couple of artistic license matters. I have moved them to what is now North America to put them on land I’m more familiar with. I will say that the land back then wasn’t all that familiar, though. For example, the Mississippi River didn’t exist until after the last Ice Age, when it was created.”
Doing the research was complicated and lots of fun. There are many alternate theories to go along with each discovery. Some thing that their brains and their throat formation would not allow high enough level thinking for them to have verbal language. Others think that their structure would allow them language abilities on the order of ours. In cases like that, with two opposing views, I’m free to go in the direction I choose. In this case, I chose, on the basis of their larger brains, to give them telepathic communication, plus speech. The speech is limited and used only in ceremonies and for important Pronouncements by the Elders.”
The book has been favorably reviewed on Amazon, Goodreads, Long and Short Reviews, Mysterical-E magazine, and many other places. Here’s the conclusion of the Long and Short Review: Death in the Time of Ice is a gripping mystery, and it’s the best example of prehistoric fiction I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves either genre.