Laughing Whitefish Author:Robert Traver Robert Traver’s first big case since Anatomy of a Murder is as intriguing, alluring, tense, and compelling as his earlier novel – and completely different. Willy Poe is a newcomer to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – a shy, lonely young lawyer yearning to meet the girl who will call him William. On a lovely July day in 1873 he met her. Her eyes we... more »re dark and smouldering, her hair long and black; she was strikingly beautiful, and her name was Laughing Whitefish. And, miracle of miracles, she called the young attorney “William Poe” and presented him with as exciting, challenging and hopeless a case as ever set a precedent, or formed the plot of a novel.
At issue is an elemental question of raw justice: can Laughing Whitefish, a Chippewa Indian, collect a debt owed her father, the late Marji Kawbawgam? She has unimpeachable proof – a tattered document giving Marji a share in the fabulous Jackson iron ore mine to which, years before, he led the white man. And no one denies the validity or authenticity of the document.
Yet – as Traver passionately and brilliantly illustrates – Law and Justice do not always coincide; Marji was a poor, heathen savage who followed the ways of his people; the mine owners are powerful, educated Christian gentlemen. William Poe must find a way to use that same Law which has kept Laughing Whitefish from her inheritance to restore her to her rights, an old man to his honor, the Chippewas to hope, and himself to renewed faith in his profession.
Laughing Whitefish tells of Willy’s days in and out of court; his often hilarious, sometimes frustrating search for evidence; his surprises and setbacks – all of which lead to an absorbing, suspenseful conclusion. He visits Indians and miners; he finds powerful legal arguments that will win his case – and equally powerful arguments that could lose it – and endlessly he matches wits with the “Silver Fox,” one of New York’s shrewdest lawyers brought out to Michigan by the rich Jackson Ore Company.
Laughing Whitefish is Traver at his best, most suspenseful and most aroused. It is also Traver at his most poetic and tender. Based on an actual case fought bitterly in the Michigan courts nearly a hundred years ago, it is a vibrant Victorian courtroom drama, a tender romance and a wonderful re-creation of the times, the people and the mores.« less