Little Mountain, by Bob Sanchez, is a deceptively simple book. On the face of it, it’s a detective story–Cambodian-born policeman Sambeth Long is tasked with solving a murder in the Cambodian-American community in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the last decade of the twentieth century.
At first glance this would seem like a simple task; Long is himself a transplanted Cambodian. He speaks the language. Moreover, he understands the culture and values of his primary witnesses and suspects. To make things even simpler there are multiple witnesses, and Detective Long has a very good idea who did the killing.
And that’s where things start getting complicated. The witnesses won’t talk. The murdered man appears to have ties to the prison camp in which Sam Long was held as a child. Detective Long must unravel a mystery that forces him to confront his childhood imprisonment and the loss of his family, even as it endangers the new family he has created in America.
Little Mountain is a tale of two Sambeth Long’s–Cambodian child, and American policeman. In writing this book Sanchez does more than just write a pretty darned good detective story that continues to surprise to the last page: He evokes a Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, as well as the complexity of integrating its refugees into American culture.
This book challenges easy assumptions, and reminds us that we all come with a history, and understanding each others’ separate pasts is vital to understanding our shared present.
Little Mountain is available from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.