The author of The Last Ridge journeys to the Canadian Arctic to describe the murders of two Catholic priests during their 1913 mission to the Eskimos of the region, their cannibalization by Inuit hunters, the long and difficult quest to find the killers, and the two trials that followed, in a study of the sometimes violent conflict between disparate cultures. In the winter of 1913, high in the Canadian Arctic, two Catholic priests set out on a dangerous mission to reach a group of Eskimos and convert them. Upon reaching their destination, the two priests were murdered, their livers removed and eaten. Over the next three years, one of the Arctic's most tragic stories became one of North America's strangest and most memorable police investigations and murder trials. First, a remarkable Canadian Mountie led a trio of constables on a three-thousand-mile journey in search of the bodies and the murderers. Then, after the astonishing murder trial that followed, the Eskimos were acquitted of the charges, despite the fact that they were tried by an all-white jury. So outraged was the judge that he demanded a retrial-predictably, the second time around, the Eskimos were convicted. An almost perfect parable of colonialism, and a rich exploration of the differences between Christianity and Eskimo mysticism, Bloody Falls of the Coppermine combines the intensity of true crime and the romance of wilderness adventure. Ultimately, it is a clear-eyed look at what happens when two utterly different cultures come into violent conflict.
All in all an interesting and quick read. 3.5 stars.