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River Thieves

Michael Crummey

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“This multi-faceted jewel of a book is probably the finest Canadian novel of the year. . . . River Thieves is the sort of novel that raises gooseflesh on the reader’s arms in its opening pages and doesn’t surrender them until well after the covers are closed.” —National Post

At the turn of the nineteenth century, naval officer David Buchan arrives in the Bay of Exploits with orders to establish contact with the Beothuk or "Red Indians," the aboriginal inhabitants of Newfoundland facing extinction. When Buchan approaches the area's most influential white settlers, the Peytons, for advice and assistance, he enters a shadowy world of allegiances and old grudges that he can only dimly apprehend. His closest ally, John Peyton Jr., maintains an uneasy balance between duty to his father—a domineering patriarch with a reputation as a ruthless persecutor of the Beothuk—and his troubled conscience. When Buchan's peace expedition into "Indian country" goes awry, the rift between father and son deepens and begins to divide those closest to them.

Years later, a second expedition leads to the kidnapping of an Indian woman and the murder of her husband and Buchan returns to investigate. As the officer attempts to uncover what really happened on the Red Indians' lake, a delicate web of obligation and debt slowly unravels.

An enthralling story of great passion and suspense, vividly set in the stark Newfoundland landscape and driven by an extraordinary cast of characters, River Thieves captures both the vast sweep of history and the intimate lives of those caught in its wake.

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