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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Deed: A Novel by Keith Blanchard



Hasn't this book already been written?

Keith Blanchard's premise in The Deed is that the fabled sale of Manhattan Island by the Manhata Indians to the Dutch is actually incorrect. Instead, the island was sold a second time by the starving Dutch colony to a Dutch man who sympathized with the Manhata, married a Manhata woman and insisted on a deed for the island so that he and his heirs could hold it for the native peoples who did not understand these legal machinations.

It's an interesting premise, but one that was explored 4 years earlier by Larry Jay Martin in his book Sounding Drum. Interestingly, it was also a quirky comedy, it also involved a romance, the mafia and Indian casinos.

Regardless of those similarities, this book should be judged on its own merits. I liked the historical section and the actual mystery of the deed. I truly disliked Blanchard's description of Hansvoort and his friends. Page after page in this book involve the bar scene and the consumption of literally gallons of alcohol. If Blanchard was trying to show us the dichotomy between Hansvoort's pointless career and the empty lives he and his friends live and that of the Indians he failed because he did not explore the lives of the Indians. Maybe he was just writing what he knows, as the old adage goes. If that was the case, it left me out completely.

On the whole, this book failed to go farther than just being OK for me - the white characters were unlikable, the Indians were mysterious and barely developed as characters and the mafia characters were menacing until it came to actually menace - then they were duds.

I rate this book 3 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: The Deed: A Novel.

Reviewed on October 18, 2006.

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