Patricia Boomsma’s Flotsam is a riveting modern-day crime-drama set in America’s Pacific Northwest, focusing on the mysterious disappearance of a young indigenous woman.
The novel commences with the macabre discovery of a foot washed up on a beach and the introduction of deputy prosecuting attorney Kelly Flynn, who, while investigating the foot, encounters Therese, an indigenous resident of the Nininpak Nation Reservation who was present when the foot was discovered. Therese’s daughter, Diyanni, has gone missing, and Therese fears the foot may belong to her.
As the mother of an adopted, rebellious, teenaged daughter, Kelly eventually becomes interested in the case. With the backing of her boss, she agrees to examine Diyanni’s disappearance, one of a worrying number of missing young women cases in the area, triggering a more assertive inquiry. This soon leads to a series of disconcerting revelations.
Flotsam is an intricately plotted, cleverly structured and meticulously researched crime procedural that is both informative and engaging, specifically regarding the seeming ambivalence of law-enforcement regarding missing indigenous women. It’s also a righteously indignant and triumphant meditation on institutional indifference and the failure of a bureaucracy to adequately safeguard society’s most vulnerable members.
Kelly anchors the novel throughout. Her psychological difficulties and personal challenges as she struggles to balance her job responsibilities with her struggles to develop a meaningful relationship with her wayward daughter are as riveting as the novel’s central crime narrative.
The novel also features a finely rendered gallery of supporting characters, including a standout: army paratrooper Henry Penthell, who features in a subplot involving his experiences of child abuse, addiction and trauma while serving in the army. This provides a dramatically satisfying counterpoint to the novel’s central storyline, intersecting it in surprising ways as the story progresses.
Ultimately, Flotsam is an emotionally charged, thematically rich and rewarding novel that will appeal to crime fans and general readers alike. It deserves to be read by as wide a readership as possible.
Also available as an ebook.