Death in the Time of Ice is a unique and wonderful combination of Prehistoric Fiction and Classic Mystery. The Hamapa live in a time when a new Ice Age is approaching. They have oral stories of previous times of ice, but do not realize immediately that the thinning of herds and disappearance of nearby tribes are connected to this oncoming great disastrous change.
The leader of the tribe, the Hama, tells her people that they will move their village in the spring to try to find lands which have more mammoth herds which provide their food and clothing. They cannot stay where they are anymore and survive. Hunting parties go out and are unsuccessful in getting any meat.
The Hama is found dead in her hut, stabbed in the back with a very sharp caribou antler. A small carving is found in the dirt outside the hut. There are tracks of small feet leading away from the hut.
A new leader is chosen, in a manner I found interesting. The candidates volunteer by stepping forward, and sit with their backs turned to the tribe. People vote by putting a rock behind the person they choose.
In this case, the new leader is the sister of the dead woman. Nanno Green Eyes is a bitter, capricious woman. She uses her new position to stop any talk of who might have murdered her sister, throwing blame onto a hostile tribe. She sends the men away to trade flint knives for meat. Her long hated rivals are made to suffer.
I really enjoyed the mystery aspects. So many possible suspects!
Nanno Green Eyes Sister of the dead leader, now wielding power and vengeance with little regard for the survival of the tribe.
The New One, a thinner, taller almost albino sounding man who makes intricate carvings from bone and wood and who was intensely disliked by the former Hama.
Enga Dancing Flower, our heroine, and an unusually smart girl who figures out at the last what happened.
Kung, a brutish boy who likes to use his physical prowess to bully others.
Doon, a boy with not much wit but a lot of anger and hatred.
I really enjoyed the world and the characters. I hope that Kaye George writes more about these wonderful characters in spectacularly difficult to survive times.