Teri Altro is a no-nonsense Special Investigator whose whole life revolves around putting drug dealers behind bars. The Valley Walker is a soldier who walked away from the Vietnam war, wandering aimlessly until he is taken in by a Hmong woman in Laos. The meeting in a Michigan drugstore between Teri and the Valley Walker is otherworldly and begins a story that will keep you entranced.
Wow. This is an intriguing combination of crime/thriller, Hmong folklore/mysticism, and the devastation and trauma experienced by soldiers during the Vietnam war. It is so much more than a typical crime story. Hmong shamans, a former soldier with unbelievable abilities, and a mystical “dragon” are interwoven with flashbacks to the Vietnam war, as well as the fight against the drug lords in Asia and the U.S. This book is about battling back against the powerful, who use whoever and take whatever they want. Underneath it all, the devastation that the Vietnam War wrought upon so many people is made evident. As T.W. Dittmer puts it so matter-of-factly in this novel, “No matter which side wins a war, the soldiers and their families always lose.”
I enjoyed the “story within a story” of Bao and her rescue, which shows Hmong mythology and tradition, as well as the fight against evil.
The Valley Walker is filled with powerful mysticism, intrigue, love, pain, and loss. It is a lesson in Hmong folkore and legends. It is an absolute adventure ride that slips between reality and myth, normal and paranormal. But most of all, it is a fight of good against evil, and a story of those willing to sacrifice and fight for others. Throughout this novel, a mantra is often repeated, once which I think the author, a Vietnam Vet, knows well…”Two salt tablets, a canteen of water, and push on.”
Read this book. It’s so good on so many levels.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
T. W. Dittmer’s full name is Timothy Watson Dittmer.
He was raised in Gary, Indiana, the son of a steelworker who turned to preaching the Gospel. After high school, he joined the Army, volunteered for service in Vietnam, then reenlisted for service in Vietnam. When his time with the Army was over, he studied music, digital electronics, and information technology.
He started writing music and poetry in high school, and has carried the love of those arts through his life.
He now lives quietly with his wife in Michigan.