Eden Mine by S.M. Hulse, formerly of Spokane, is a compelling story for our time and our place. An act of terrorism shocks a small, former mining town in northwestern Montana. The perpetrator flees, but a surveillance camera identifies him as a local resident, Samuel Faber. What follows is both a page turner about the search for Samuel and a character study of Jo, his sister, and first-person narrator of the story.
Jo is in her early 20s; Samuel is seven years older. They have lived on their own for nearly a decade, since their mother was murdered in the home by a violent boyfriend. Jo was injured in the shooting, a spinal injury, and she hasn't walked since. Their father had died in the Eden Mine collapse when Jo was just one year old.
Details unfold gradually as the tension around Samuel's disappearance and the mystery of his motives stymie law enforcement officials, who turn to Jo to learn more about Samuel. As narrator, she moves the story forward even though she has little to tell them about her brother. In an odd narrative twist, Jo develops a friendship with the pastor of the church that was damaged in the bombing. Issues of faith and belief — does God exist? — are explored as their friendship grows and the story turns to a suspense-filled and ultimately satisfying finale.
In Eden Mine, Hulse has created an unusual and compelling lead character, a strong young woman who is faithful to the brother she loves even as she knows he has committed a terrible crime. The story ends, but Jo Faber will linger with readers, along with mysteries of love, truth, faith and friendship.