Title: Riders of the Tides
Author: Fredrick Cooper
Genre: Adult Fiction / Historical Fiction
Earl Armstrong, a young tribal forester, lives a quiet life on the Washington Coast managing timber sales and minding his own business. When a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway leads him to Unck, a local Indian storyteller who leaves him a suitcase of old treasures--a beaded tobacco pouch, a whalebone-handled knife, a piece of an old totem--Earl’s life is forever changed.
First, a tingling in the fingers. Next, restless sleep. Someone is there. As pieces of the past slip through Earl’s dreams, the true nature of the treasures is revealed, guiding Earl to clues surrounding a murder that has plagued his family for generations. But in learning about the death of Ben Armstrong, a pioneer, adventurer, and successful lumberman, Earl’s own life is at risk as he is stalked by a person linked to his dead ancestor, bringing the past and present together in a horrifying twist of dreams and reality.
The warmth of the still-burning woodstove soaked into him, causing him to drift in and out of a stupor. His thoughts—maybe they were dreams—were confusing, scenes of the past mixed with Unck’s wake and burial. He felt like he was trying to run away from some large, hairy creature, maybe a man, but his feet were like lead. He couldn’t escape the monster and couldn’t see anything in front of him clearly. As much as he wanted to avoid the creature and open his eyes, he couldn’t. He experienced other disturbing sensations, and while his mind struggled, his body refused to wake up. One moment he felt like he was underwater tangled in a bed of kelp, struggling to return to the surface. Then he was walking through tall grass rustling with the sound of the wind. The wind and grass morphed into thunderous surf, pounding onto a white sand beach as he swam furiously through the waves towards a boat full of men reaching out to him. The scene changed again and the sound of the surf and men’s voices urging him on became the slapping of a sail and the creaking of a huge wooden mast, only for this vision to fade away as the mast became part of a vast forest of tall trees over a beautiful river with quiet pools. Then the feeling of sinking into cold, dark water overtook him again while a door banged somewhere above him.
Suddenly he was awake. The front door was open and the wind was pounding his screen door into the frame. He felt cold, yet he was sweating and his feet felt heavy. The room around him slowly came into focus. Earl’s eyes were drawn to the table in the center of the room where hours before the coffin had rested. On the table lay Unck’s old suitcase. Earl had forgotten all about the bag; the last he remembered, it was stored in the woodshed off the back porch.
Earl struggled to his feet, still feeling shaky from the troubling dream. He closed and latched the screen door and walked over to the old suitcase. It was then that he noticed it was actually a very old leather bag with straps, like the vintage bags he had seen in the antique shops in Seattle. It had stains and scrapes, and several of the leather straps were missing buckles. Upon closer inspection it looked like there were initials stamped into a piece of metal fastened to the leather just below the clasp. Earl rubbed at the green buildup on the brass fitting and tried to decipher the letters engraved into the metal: B. C. ARMST_ON_.
“I’ll be darned,” he said aloud. “This isn’t Unck’s bag.” He remembered the old man’s words: Mostly what I got to carry is the past. Can’t never let go of the things in that bag. They are the stories, the history, and the spirits of our family.
Earl scratched his two-day-old beard. Ben Armstrong had to have been dead long before Unck was born. How old had Unck been anyway? Could he have known Ben’s son and inherited the bag from him?
Earl tried to recall what little he knew about his ancestry. The second son, Benjamin Franklin Armstrong, had been born five months after his father, Benjamin Charles Armstrong, died; the child and an older brother were placed in a foster home. They must have been little more than slaves since they ran away; eventually, they were raised by an uncle on the Indian reservation at Georgetown. What was the uncle’s name? Yeah, Old George, a shaman!
Earl hefted the bag and found it to be fairly heavy. Curiosity came over him as he thought of the possibilities. Clothes? Books? Family letters or documents? Earl fiddled with the clasp and it released. As it did, the images of swirling water came back to him, darkening his vision enough that he felt dizzy. He grabbed the edge of the table. Once the sensation passed, he raised the lid and stared down at the contents. No clothes or books as he had expected. Instead, the oddest assortment of possessions he had ever seen.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Riders of the Tides is an award-winning novel—an adventure in two times as it moves between the present day and the 1850s in the Oregon Territory. It is a story of Manifest Destiny and the untimely death of a man who sought to overcome it and build an empire in the untamed wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. Historical fiction lovers and mystery connoisseurs will relish every word of this captivating book.
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Fredrick Cooper was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and lived in Alaska for many years. Before obtaining a doctorate in civil engineering and pursuing a professional career, he worked as a road surveyor, longshoreman, commercial fisherman, cannery worker, and even as a technician and news anchor for a cable television station in a small community in Alaska. He is of Coastal Salish and Lower Chehalis Band descent and is enrolled with a Northwest Indian Tribe. In addition to his second career in writing fiction, he is a master woodcarver, specializing in Native American artifacts such as canoe paddles and ceremonial items. He is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and the Willamette Writers and his novels have received several awards. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon, and is working on another story.
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Author website: https://www.fredrickcooperauthor.com