The Peacekeeper by B.L. Blanchard

In this alternate history, the Great Lakes region is part of an independent Ojibwe nation that was never colonized by Europeans. The peacekeeper of the title is Chibenashi, a lawman who has lived in the village of Baawitigong (which we know better as Sault Ste. Marie) his entire life.

Keeping the peace in Baawitigong usually isn’t a very strenuous job, but when a brutal murder occurs, the horror seems all too familiar to Chibenashi. When he was a teenager, his mother was killed in a very similar way. His family was further torn apart when his father confessed to the crime and was taken to Shikaakwa (Chicago) for rehabilitation. He then lost the woman he loved when her career also took her to the big city and he had to stay at home to care for his needy younger sister. 

For twenty years, Chibenashi has been weighed down by guilt, sadness, and his codependent relationship with his now adult sibling. He’s too close to this new crime to remain objective, but he doggedly investigates the case anyway. Old family secrets are unearthed which eventually lead him to Shikaakwa – and awkward reunions with both his ex-lover and his institutionalized father.

At times, the murder investigation takes a back seat to the worldbuilding in this story, but Chibenashi’s 21st Century is a fascinating place to visit. Even the maps at the front of the book approach things from a different angle than we're used to.

Reviewed by Lynn Heitkamp
Zauel Library