Back of my hand

Mystery/crime is not my usual preferred book genre but it can be a great palate cleanser. The GG stumbled upon a series of such books set in the eastern yooperland (Sault Ste. Siberia over to Paradise). I read TWO of them this weekend and I had a great time. Alex McKnight is the main character.

It is interesting reading a book set in an area you know like the back of your hand. Like when McKnight was trying to find a house in SS Siberia and the route involved driving 14th street north from 3-Mile Road. I knew *exactly* where that was and I *got* it when he reached a dead end and had to backtrack a bit. From that dead end, our hero stumbled around a bit and ended up a bit to the west in Bad Boyfriend’s childhood neighborhood in Algonquin (as the western end of our little city is often referred to). He found the house on a fictional street (Hickory) but traversed familiar streets to get there.

For those of you who think you know the Sault Ste. Marie area, 14th Street is the street immediately west of and adjacent to the new Meijer store. I take that street every time I go to the recycle center and I have NEVER hit the dead end. Why not? Because I have been familiar with that area since I was old enough to be able to look out a car window. It was part of the beloved “long cut” my family would take when returning to town from the moomincabin after a Sunday afternoon visit. Well before I learned how to drive, I knew the whole city like, well, the back of my hand. And I have known where to turn to go down the hill before that dead end FOREVER.

I think Hickory Street was an intentional piece of geographical fiction but there were other little discrepancies that I had to gnoff at. Like there has NEVER been a truck stop (or ANYTHING!) at the I75/M28 interchange and if there had been, it is highly doubtful that it would ever serve 100 trucks at a time. Yet, the more I think about that, I’m sure it was also intentional fiction.

Then there were the decisions about whether or not to name a known business entity. I did a double take at Horns Inn and then cracked up when I realized (because east side of town and aminal heads EVERYWHERE) that it was The Antlers, a popular Sault barrroooom/restaurant for many many years. Why did he not call it The Antlers, when two pages back he referred to the Keewadin Casino and Big Bear Arena by their real names? Also interesting was that a couple of prominent area Native American surnames (LeBlanc and Parrish) were assigned to characters but none of the Sault names were in any way familiar to me. Not a complaint, just puzzling. Apparently the author did spend time in the area and I can’t help wondering if he felt the need to ask various people and/or businesses if it was okay to use an actual name or if it was simply a literary choice. Or maybe just to give yooper natives like me a chance to guess 🐸

I expect to read more of these books. I have not yet heard mention of the South Side (my childhood neighborhood and where my grandparents lived). I hope he has worked that area into one of his books somewhere.

Happy Time Change, y’all whose time has changed!

2 Responses to “Back of my hand”

  1. Pooh Says:

    The setting is what first attracted me to “Ursula Under” by Irene Hill. (? on the author) It includes a character who is a librarian at the Sault library.

  2. Margaret Says:

    That’s an interesting question. I wonder if the author did have to ask permission to use real business names. I enjoy reading books set around me too, just to see what’s accurate and what isn’t.