"Never Name the Dead" book coverNever Name the Dead” by D.M. Rowell

Review by Yvonne Selander, collection development librarian

Mae’s company is about to help a new company announce its IPO, and this deal could make her business. It’s exactly the wrong time to go back to Oklahoma, but her Grandfather never calls her and he not only called, he asked for help. She’s on the first flight back and she knows something is very wrong when he doesn’t meet her at the airport. But other tribal elders are there and she’s desperate to get out to her grandfather’s house so she takes the offer of a ride. With each mile and each stop her unease grows. Sure, it’s been a decade since she’s been back, but this isn’t ordinary change. Something isn’t right and it looks like Mae is going to need to shed her Silicon Valley persona and get back to her roots as a member of the Kiowa tribe known as Mud to find out what is going on.

Everyone can identify with Mud – she’s gone off and made a name for herself in her career yet when she returns home she’s the misfit who never quite fits in. Her ties to her home and tribal identity are strong so she brings the reader on a journey to rediscover her roots, test her dreams and examine her relationships. I especially liked the realism of her Silicon Valley life intruding all the time via cell phone calls and texts. While it brought you out of the Kiowa storyline and mystery, it lent realism and insight into Mae/Mud and her personality and grit. Learning about Kiowa customs through her eyes was an interesting introduction to the way of life and belief systems of a people. Her sleuthing doesn’t seem forced – she’s trying to find her grandfather and keeps finding new threads to unravel – so the mystery and the solution feel very organic. I was very proud to come to the same conclusion as Mud as to the identity of the criminal at the same time she did. 

It looks like this book is the first in the Mud Sawpole series. I look forward to the next.