Hunter’s Dance

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

After living thirty years or more working for Intelligence in England, John McIntire has come back home to St. Adele, Michigan, where he has taken the post of Constable. It is the early 1950’s and the country is still recovering from World War II. In St. Adele there is not a lot to do besides hunting and drinking, and fall brings the annual Hunter’s Dance, an event at which everyone seems to let go, usually causing a lot of minor problems for the constable.

But this fall what seems to be a trivial incident after the dance is followed by the death of one of the residents, Bambi Morlen, the young son of a rich but troubled couple who are members of the exclusive Shawanok Club. Investigation reveals that Bambi has been the victim of a bizarre ritual. Was this an attempt to make it appear that one of the local Native Americans committed the crime? McIntire learns some strange things about the boy’s family as he investigates, as well as about other residents of the community, rich and poor. In small towns it seems that old sins do indeed have long shadows. The outcome of the case is a genuine surprise.

Hunter’s Dance moves at a relaxed pace and presents the place and the time period persuasively. Unlike many novels set in the recent past, Kathleen Hills does not barrage the reader with an avalanche of brand names and political slogans, but gives the impression of representing how people generally thought then. Something more than a beach read, this is a satisfying novel.