Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
As a historical fiction, this is a great book. Guterson knows his setting and he put some very interesting characters in a very interesting time period. There's no information dump going on here - everything you need to know about life on a NW Pacific Island in the 40's and 50's, including what it was like to be a Japanese immigrant or first generation Japanese-American is revealed naturally through the story telling process. The internment camps, as awful as they are, don't bring the story to a dead stop as so many historical fiction writers would allow them to do. As I said, this is great historical fiction.
However, it's also a mystery. Or at least we're supposed to believe there's a mystery. The problem is, anyone who'd read a fair share of courtroom mysteries (or watched at least one season of Law & Order) knows that if it's called a mystery, then obviously the first person accused probably didn't do it. Otherwise, where's the mystery? Guterson tries to build suspense by alternating between the courtroom scenes and everything that lead up to them, but honestly, if an author has to tell a story in non-linear style to keep the reader interested, he probably didn't have a strong enough story.
My rating break down would be two stars for mystery, four for historical fiction.
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