Dale Maharidge explores personal strife, land ownership, and American history in his mystery novel Burn Coast.
A writer and reporter from New York owns land on the California coast; his neighbors there are Likowski and Eddie. When their mutual friend Zoë disappears, they search for her together, arguing over the possibility of her suicide. Given the upcoming trial of her son, Klaus, who was accused of raping three young women, the writer and other members of the community cannot help but reflect on earlier events.
The writer, in his middle age, is verbose; his journalism skills lead him through confrontations with government officials, family friends, and drug-dealing crooks. He and others recall how their relationships formed before Zoë’s disappearance. Even Klaus had a close relationship with Likowski, Eddie, and the writer until the accusations. And the coast once belonged to the Athapaskans—knowledge that causes coast residents to see visions of Athapaskan fires during their search for the truth. Some are convinced that a curse is upon the land.
This is a complicated story with a complex timeline, but one whose philosophical inquiries demand rapt attention. They concern the nature of the United States justice system, news reporting, imperialism, and land ownership. The cast’s connection to California’s countryside is informed by family histories and current dynamics: Likowski doubts the writer’s intentions on the coast, since they’re a reporter from the New York Times, for example, though their mutual concern for Zoë as her past lovers compels their mutual commitment to finding her. Personal and political histories push and pull each person in their search for truth and understanding—on the coast and in the world.
Concerned with history and livelihoods, Burn Coast is a complex mystery that forces an inquiry into the unfolding events of imperialism.
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.