Book Review: 'The Peacekeeper' by B.L. Blanchard
In a world where the continents we know as the Americas were never colonized, Peacekeeper Chibenashi quietly goes through life caring for his sister, Ashwiyaa, and watching over his small village of Baawitigong, ignoring the melancholy this existence brings to him. Baawitigong is a place where crime is rare. The last crime happened twenty years ago when Chibenashi’s mother was murdered by his father. Now, on the anniversary of his mother’s death, another murder has occurred, and discovering the truth will be more devastating than the painful lies he has been living with.
The Peacekeeper is B.L. Blanchard’s delightfully disturbing debut novel that is one part murder mystery, one part thriller, and one part family drama. Blanchard takes the reader on a journey filled with twists and turns while navigating through a world that could have been. The society the characters live in is a present timeline that centers on Indigenous lifestyles, which is awe-inspiring yet contains underlying blemishes of humanity’s shortcomings. Blanchard’s smartly written narrative is also peppered with the right amount of suspense to keep readers involved and on edge. Family dynamics and skeletons in the closet is at the heart of The Peacekeeper, which Blanchard executes with excellent pace and tight prose.
Broken down by the trauma of his past and his ever-vigilant caretaking of his younger sister, Chibenashi has become a Peacekeeper, a position that allows him to watch over his village but is also a position that feels of little use in the uneventful town of Baawitigong. In the opening pages, Blanchard artfully illustrates Chibenashi’s anxiousness and feelings of powerlessness while also providing a snapshot of Baawitigong, its residence, and its culture. When his mother’s best friend—his only real confidant—is killed on the twentieth anniversary of his mother’s murder, Chibenashi struggles with his deepening feelings of failure and, eventually, his professional ethics when the current investigation merges with the closed case of his mother’s murder.
Blanchard skillfully executes Chibenashi’s downward spiral with a deft hand and an exceptional understanding of the human mind. How much lies, betrayal, and pain can one person take before they turn to any means possible to get to the truth? Does the truth really set people free, or is ignorance really bliss? What will people do to protect the ones that they love? Chibenashi grapples with these questions and themes, all the while, the reader is introduced to a stunning and detailed society of various Indigenous cities in an alternate present.
The description of the overarching law and order system is given enough attention to not only keep readers in the loop, but also show how different it is from the United States’ system. In the end, any system created by people may be flawed because people are flawed, but a system built on compassion and “making people whole” is easy to see as improved.
Blanchard delves into this alternate present, highlighting culture and society while dialing in on individual people and their lives. In The Peacekeeper, this refreshing setting heartbreakingly showcases how evil can grow in even the most compassionate and understanding of communities.
For fans of detective stories, murder mysteries, and crime thrillers, The Peacekeeper is wild ride of deceit, secrets, and criminal instincts. The Peacekeeper is also a novel for anyone interested in alternate timelines. With a clear and engaging voice, and concise and neatly written prose, Blanchard creates a tale of intrigue, family bonds, and the lies that tie us together.