River Thieves

River Thieves

Book - 2002
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Houghton
In a masterly debut, the award-winning poet and short-fiction writer Michael Crummey crafts a haunting novel set on the rugged coast of Newfoundland at the turn of the nineteenth century. Told in elegant, sensual prose, RIVER THIEVES Thieves is a richly imagined, historically provocative story about love, loss, and the heartbreaking compromises -- both personal and political -- that undermine lives.

In 1810, David Buchan, a naval officer, arrives in the Bay of Exploits with orders to establish contact with the Beothuk, or "Red Indians," the aboriginal inhabitants of Newfoundland, who are facing extinction. When Buchan approaches the area's most influential white settlers, the Peytons, for advice and assistance, he enters a shadowy world of allegiances and old grudges that he can only dimly apprehend. His closest ally, John Peyton Jr., maintains an uneasy balance between duty to his father -- a domineering patriarch with a reputation as a ruthless persecutor of the Beothuk -- and his troubled conscience. Cassie, the fiercely self-reliant and secretive woman who keeps the family house, walks a precarious line of her own between the unspoken but obvious hopes of the younger Peyton, her loyalty to John Senior, and a steadfast refusal to compromise her independence. When Buchan's peace expedition into "Indian country" goes awry, the rift between father and son deepens and begins to divide those closest to them.

Years later, when a second expedition to the Beothuk's winter camp mounted by the Peytons leads to the kidnapping of an Indian woman and the murder of her husband, Buchan returns to investigate. As the officer attempts to uncover what really happened at the Red Indians' lake, the delicate web of obligation and debt that holds together the Peyton household -- and the community of settlers on the northeastern shore -- slowly unravels.

The tragedy of miscommunication and loss among these colonists living in a harsh environment in a crude, violent age prefigures and in some sense is seen as the cause of the more profound loss, that of an entire people. An enthralling story of great passion and suspense, vividly set in the stark Newfoundland landscape and driven by an extraordinary cast of characters, RIVER THIEVES captures both the vast sweep of history and the intimate lives of those caught in its wake.


Baker & Taylor
A novel set in turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Newfoundland chronicles the conflict between the European settlers and the remnants of the Beothuk, or native Indians, as an idealistic naval officer arrives to establish contact with the Beothuk.

Blackwell North Amer
In 1810, David Buchan, a naval officer, arrives in the Bay of Exploits with orders to establish contact with the Beothuk, or "Red Indians," the aboriginal inhabitants of Newfoundland, who are facing extinction. When Buchan approaches the area's most influential white settlers, the Peytons, for advice and assistance, he enters a shadowy world of allegiances and old grudges that he can only dimly apprehend. His closest ally, John Peyton Jr., maintains an uneasy balance between duty to his father - a domineering patriarch with a reputation as a ruthless persecutor of the Beothuk - and his troubled conscience. Cassie, the fiercely self-reliant and secretive woman who keeps the family house, walks a precarious line of her own between the unspoken but obvious hopes of the younger Peyton, her loyalty to John Senior, and a steadfast refusal to compromise her independence. When Buchan's expedition into "Indian country" goes awry, the rift between father and son deepens and begins to divide those closest to them.
Years later, when a second expedition to the Beothuk's winter camp mounted by the Peytons leads to the kidnapping of an Indian woman and the murder of her husband, Buchan returns to investigate. As the officer attempts to uncover what really happened at the Red Indian's lake, the delicate web of obligation and debt that holds together the Peyton household - the community of settlers on the northeastern shore - slowly unravels.

Baker
& Taylor

Set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Newfoundland, this richly textured debut novel chronicles the conflict between the European settlers and the remnants of the Beothuk, or native Indians, as an idealistic naval officer arrives to establish contact with the Beothuk, a mission that goes tragically awry. 25,000 first printing.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2002
ISBN: 9780618145317
0618145311
Characteristics: 335 p. ; 25 cm

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ledft37
Oct 21, 2011

I read this book a couple of years ago. Then found Michael was to be the resource author on A circumnavigation cruise of
Newfoundland I re-read and 2nd time was magic. There is such depth of character and 2nd time did not lose track of them.
Met Michael on cruise and found him to be a quiet, introspective young man with great knowledge, interest and love of Newfoundland and its' people..

v
vcc
Oct 01, 2011

This was a hard-to-follow, boring read. I was interested to read about the Beothuk, but lost interest when I lost track of the characters' names.

m2 Feb 03, 2011

Beautifully written fiction about very early Canadian history. Centers on the extinction of one group of Native Americans and how immigrants contributed to their demise. Compelling reading -- complex characters.

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JMJourney
Mar 13, 2012

River Thieves is a beautifully written and compelling novel that breathes life into the pivotal events which shaped relations between the Beothuk Indians of Newfoundland and European settlers. Following a series of expeditions made under the order of the British Crown, the reader witnesses the tragic fallout from these missions as the Beothuk vanish and the web of secrets guarded by the settlers slowly begin to unravel …Told in elegant sensual prose this is an enthralling historical novel of great passion and suspense, driven by the extraordinary cast of characters. And with it Michael Crummey establishes himself as one of Canada’s most exciting new talents.

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