Fiction - Crime
222 Pages
Reviewed on 10/04/2023
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Author Biography

The inspiration for Flotsam came from a newspaper article I read about the floating feet - human bones found in shoes - that kept washing up along the Pacific shoreline in British Columbia and Washington State. I love Nordic Noir, and this seemed like the perfect beginning for one. Research led me in new directions, and my many years as a public lawyer in Arizona gave my thoughts a legal perspective and colored my choice of a deputy prosecutor for Flotsam's protagonist.

I have published short stories in Scarlet Leaf Review, Persimmon Tree, and Vignette Review. My first novel, The Way of Glory, won the Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book-Fiction from the Independent Publishers Association. My third novel, Lost, is scheduled for publication in 2024.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Flotsam by Patricia Boomsma is a murder/mystery, crime story that takes place in the Pacific Northwest and sheds a spotlight on the mysterious yet regular disappearances of women on both sides of the Canadian/American border, especially indigenous women. Kelly Flynn is a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in a rural town in Washington State. When police find a foot inside a shoe washed up on the local beach, Kelly is called to the crime scene. Because the beach borders the Native American Nininpak Nation reservation, there is some question of jurisdiction. Whilst at the scene she meets one of the women who discovered the shoe, Therese, a Native American woman who is fearful the foot might belong to her daughter Diyanni, who has been missing for several weeks. She asks Kelly for help in finding Diyanni because the police, the sheriff, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs all seem indifferent to her daughter’s disappearance. As the mother of an adopted, rebellious fourteen-year-old girl, Kelly understands and sympathizes with Therese’s predicament and reluctantly agrees to help. What she discovers is a tangle of disinterest, conflicting jurisdictions, and a bias against missing adults who may have just chosen to disappear. What Kelly also discovers is a large catalog of missing women in the state, especially Native American women.

Flotsam is an eye-opening story that seeks to educate as well as entertain. Author Patricia Boomsma has created a real-to-life narrative that appears to play itself out frequently both in Canada and America, where women disappear regularly and there is not the same emphasis placed on finding them or whether foul play was involved in their disappearance. I particularly appreciated that the author focused on the plight of Native American women and the lack of urgency displayed by the authorities in attempting to discover what may have befallen them. This was perfectly illustrated by the amount of media exposure, police commitment, and involvement of Federal Agencies like the FBI if the missing woman was from a white, middle-class background and, importantly, had a powerful father who was able to push people to achieve results. I also enjoyed the relationship between Kelly and her teenage daughter Ruth. Their strained relationship and Kelly’s difficulty in juggling her tough work life with a daughter determined to rebel against all and any authority, as a single parent, will be relatable to other parents in this position. The separate story arc of Henry’s upbringing and the abuse he suffered at his father’s hand, plus his difficulties with drug addiction, added real depth to the overall scope of the novel. This was an excellent read that I finished in one satisfying session. I can highly recommend this book.

Pikasho Deka

Flotsam is a riveting crime drama novel by Patricia Boomsma. After authorities discover a human foot in a shoe floating along Galmenberg Bay, Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Flynn arrives at the scene and meets Therese, an Indigenous woman whose daughter, Diyanni (Dee), went missing, but no one seems to care. After much deliberation, Kelly decides to help Therese find out what happened to her daughter. Alongside Detective Connor Andino, she delves into the case, only to realize the plight of other missing Native women. Meanwhile, she struggles to bond with her own fourteen-year-old daughter. When the daughter of a local Minnesota politician also goes missing, the FBI finally lends some help in Dee's missing case. But will it be enough? Can Kelly and the other investigators navigate the bureaucratic knots to find the truth and help bring closure to a mother?

Patricia Boomsma's gripping sleuth drama sheds light on the real-life issue of missing Indigenous people in North America who have been ignored by the media, public, and relevant agencies for far too long. Soaked in suspense and mystery, Flotsam is a captivating story full of tragedy, drama, and thrills. Boomsma paces the plot nicely, with a few clever and unexpected twists and turns placed at regular intervals that make you eager to find out what's coming next. Apart from Dee's storyline, I also enjoyed Henry's tale, which was utterly heartbreaking. The characters feel like real people with credible agency to their actions and motives. I found Kelly's relationship with Ruth very compelling, along with her dynamic with Connor. This is one of the most absorbing crime drama novels I've read this year, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Alma Boucher

Flotsam by Patricia Boomsma is a crime thriller. A foot in a running shoe washed ashore on the Pacific coast, and Kelly Flynn, a deputy prosecutor, was sent to the scene. Kelly meets Therese, who is the mother of Diyanni, a missing Native American girl. Diyanni has been gone for almost a month, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the FBI do not usually become involved in missing Indigenous person cases. Kelly rejects Therese’s request to help her because she is too busy attending to her own needs as well as those of her difficult teenage daughter. After hearing from Therese about the dismissive attitude of the city police, Kelly decided to help her. Kelly finds herself in a web of indifference, a lack of resources, and the impossibility of finding solutions in cases involving missing Indigenous people.

Flotsam is a wake-up call to the tragedy of discarding people as worthless. I was intrigued from the start and was kept guessing until the end. Patricia Boomsma took me on a roller coaster ride of violence, child abuse, trafficking, and missing and murdered Indigenous people. It was a page-turner, and I could not turn the pages fast enough. There was always a surprise waiting around the corner, and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. Different plots were woven together, and the part about Traveler was interesting. It provided a distraction and also contained clues to what had happened. Kelly and Connor were my favorite characters. They were the only two who took action to track down Diyanni. This is an excellent story that shows how a missing person's investigation differs depending on who is missing.

K.C. Finn

Flotsam is a work of fiction in the crime, mystery, and suspense subgenres. It is best suited to adult readers and contains strong dark themes but no explicit graphic material. Penned by author Patricia Boomsma, we follow the exploits of Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kelly Flynn, who finds herself at a crime scene with a grim discovery. A foot in a running shoe has washed up along the Pacific shoreline. There, she meets Therese, the desperate mother of a missing Native woman, Diyanni. The local authorities and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have shown little interest in Diyanni's case, but Therese's plea for help tugs at Kelly's conscience. Initially overwhelmed with her own commitments and family issues, Kelly eventually decides to assist Therese in navigating the complex web of jurisdictional challenges in missing Indigenous people cases. As Kelly delves deeper, she confronts a disheartening reality of indifference, negligence, and a lack of resources.

Patricia Boomsma crafts a gripping mystery that sheds light on the tragic treatment of marginalized communities, particularly Indigenous people, whilst also delivering an emotionally charged and eye-opening narrative. The strong authorial perspective of the work guides us through vivid scenes and compelling dialogue, combining the essential elements of a thrilling mystery with the harsh realities faced by those seeking justice for their missing loved ones. The character of Kelly Flynn is well-developed, and her transformation from initial hesitation to a determined advocate for justice is compelling to follow and tugs at the heartstrings. Boomsma's portrayal of the misty Pacific Northwest setting is vivid, rich, and immersive, adding to the atmospheric tension of the novel as the mood of the place seems to reflect and foreshadow the action. Overall, Flotsam serves as an important reminder of the struggles faced by marginalized communities and the need for compassion and advocacy. It's a thought-provoking and poignant read that lingers in the mind long after the last page is turned, and I would highly recommend it.

Carmen Tenorio

Flotsam by Patricia Boomsma is a story about how a severed foot found on the Pacific shoreline leads to a case of a missing Indigenous young woman. The victim's mother, who was at the crime scene anticipating the grim reality of the whereabouts of her missing daughter, appealed for help to county prosecutor Kelly Flynn. Kelly was also present at the site but almost refused to get involved if not for the aloof treatment that the natives get from the police and the fact that most of the missing women are Indigenous. The age of the missing person makes it more personal because this also reminds Kelly of her own daughter and the difficult relationship that she has with her. Getting involved is like opening a Pandora's box that reveals trouble with issues of jurisdiction, lack of resources, neglect, disinterest, and racial bias, to name a few. Will Kelly be able to find answers and sustain her steadfast attitude despite the odds that are stacked against seeking justice for the missing and resolving this sensitive case?

Flotsam by Patricia Boomsma is a well-plotted, frank, and culturally sensitive whodunit that highlights oppressive societal problems and issues. It invites open-mindedness and empathy from the reader so they can see events through the point of view of others. The author employs good character development in the very human side of the cast to show the backstory to their reactions and behavior and create story dynamics that are both intriguing and relatable. The rational approach is matter-of-fact about several subjects that it deals with, but is still quite emotionally charged as the key players are portrayed. The story has a slow build-up but dramatically reveals the after-effects of events in a character's life to help readers understand the story's high point and conclusion.

The material is well-researched, informative, and considerate of boundaries. Author Patricia Boomsma's uncomplicated yet impeccable writing style gives readers what they are looking for. Flotsam is an overall well-written novel recommended for legal mystery fans and contains emotional, disturbing, and grisly characters and scenes mixed with some aboriginal culture and beliefs alongside animal symbolism and instinct.

Wishing Shelf Review

It seems to me that the detective novel is still a popular read for many readers. I also enjoy sitting down with a good murder mystery, and rooting for the overworked (but always charismatic) detective as he, or she, attempts to find answers and uncover who did what to who. So I was delighted to pick up Flotsam by Patricia Boomsma, a well-written, cleverly plotted mystery focusing on Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kelly Flynn and her attempts to find missing women. But Flotsam is not just another mystery, it's also a commentary on how missing women can be treated by law enforcement, particularly if they happen to be native to the country.

There are many aspects to this novel I particularly enjoyed. Firstly, the protagonist, Kelly, is a force to be reckoned with. I loved how determined she was in her hunt for justice, and I liked the added complication of her troubled teenage daughter, Ruth.

Secondly, in terms of law enforcement and how the system works, the author seems to know her stuff. Although the technicality of the legal system hurts the pacing in parts, it's still interesting, and adds a lot to the novel. Thirdly, the author works well with speech, successfully using it to develop the characters and, of course, the plot.

All in all, I'm very happy to recommend this book to anybody who enjoys a puzzling mystery, and possibly has an interest in how law enforcement and the criminal legal system works. It's a fascinating read, depressing in parts, but the dynamic Kelly’s always there to keep things moving. In fact, I liked the hero so much, I'm hoping to see her in many more books in the future.

A ‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review