The Curious Eat Themselves

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Cecil Younger, the private investigator in Sitka, Alaska, whom John Straley presented in THE WOMAN WHO MARRIED A BEAR, returns in THE CURIOUS EAT THEMSELVES. He is hired by Louise Root, a cook at a gold mining camp run by Global Mining, “to interview some of the witnesses” to her rape during her birthday party at the camp. She is murdered, however, before he can help her.

While her friend and Younger’s ex-lover Hannah Elder (whose last name seems a somewhat confusing pun on Cecil’s own) sets out to avenge her, Global hires Younger to find out all he can about Stephen Matthews, a well-known environmentalist to whom, it turns out, Louise has sent documents proving that Global has contaminated ground water with a cyanide solution used to extract gold and has faked the disposal of the solution. Most of this evidence Hannah steals from Louise’s backpack and hides in a freezer with the corpse of a dog dear to Younger’s ward Toddy.

Younger finds out from Matthews that Charlie Potts, who works for Global, raped Louise. Then, as he leaves, he is almost murdered himself by Eli Pick, a professional killer hired by Global to keep its secrets safe. As the case unfolds, there are further threats to Younger and to Hannah, culminating in a boat-chase to an island not far from Sitka.

Scenes from Younger’s domestic life are interwoven with the main line of the plot. His ward is an autistic young man, and Younger does the best he can to...

(The entire section is 436 words.)