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Once and FBI agent, Ella Clah is now a Special Investigator with the Navajo Police. She walks a tightrope between the Navajo and white worlds, fully accepted by neither but needed by both. Ella's brother, Clifford, a hataali or medicine man, says that her investigative skills are a gift from the spirits who guard and guide the Dineh, but Ella insists it's her FBI training that has honed her instincts.
Ella's life is about to change in ways she can barely begin to imagine--she is newly pregnant, and though she knows who the father is, she will not marry him. In Navajo society, her child will be of her clan, and will be accepted by her family, no matter what--but how can she stay a police officer, exposing herself and her unborn child to terrible danger day after day?
Given her current caseload, it's hard for Ella to put off making a final decision about her career. There's a near-riot at LabKote, a factory on the Reservation that produces high-quality vessels for medical labs. The Fierce Ones, an activist group of Navajo, are insisting that more native workers be hired by the firm--including a Navajo replacement for a manager recently found dead in his car, an apparent suicide. A sniper shoots at Ella as she drives to another crime scene--the home of State Senator James Yellowhair, who has been kidnapped.
Feuding between traditionalist and modernist elements in the Navajo nation heats up with sabotage, vandalism, and murder, spurred by a rise in birth defects among the Dineh's livestock and rustling of sheep and cattle. Ella's personal concerns mount when officers investigating a break-in at the health clinic discover that the records of several pregnant women--including Ella--are missing. Then one of the pregnant women is murdered....
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Former FBI agent, now special investigator with the Navajo Police, Ella Clah knows it's her police training, not the special gift of sensing she's supposed to have inherited from her clan ancestors, that accounts for her unease when troubling things begin happening on the reservation. Lab reports on pregnant women have been stolen from the health clinic, a Navajo guard at the LabKote factory has been murdered, and two native leaders have been kidnapped. The evidence points toward an activist Indian group known as the Fierce Ones, who have been protesting the deal that leaders made with the medical supply company that's on their land. Tensions are running high between the traditionalists and the moderns, the natives who want a return to the old ways and those who embrace the white man's technology to increase their crop yields and improve their brood animals. Not only is Ella stunned to learn that among the masked Fierce Ones is her beloved brother, a healer, but she's just discovered she's pregnant, by a tribal lawyer whose clan has been at odds with her own since the days of their ancestors.
This latest in the increasingly popular Ella Clah series (Death Walker, Bad Medicine, Enemy Way) packs enough action into one slim novel to satisfy readers used to the more cerebral novels of Tony Hillerman and others writing crime fiction featuring Native American heroes. Like them, the Thurlos put a lot of Indian lore into their books and focus on characters who struggle to live in two cultures but are never fully embraced by either. Ella Clah is a thoroughly modern career woman, but her loyalty to her heritage runs strong and deep, making for a richly explicated interior life that is more fully realized by the Thurlos than many of their peers in the genre. If you haven't met Ella before, her newest adventure will have you scrambling for her previous ones. This deft, fast-paced read pulses with danger and excitement on every page. --Jane AdamsAbout the Author:
Aimée and David Thurlo have been married for more than thirty years and have been writing novels together for nearly that long, in a variety of genres including romance, young adult, and mystery. They have three ongoing mystery series, the Sister Agatha series, starring a cloistered nun, the Lee Nez series, featuring a Navajo vampire who teams up with a female FBI agent to fight crimes that have elements of the supernatural, and their flagship series, the critically-acclaimed Ella Clah novels. Several Ella Clah novels, including Tracking Bear, Red Mesa, and Shooting Chant, have received starred reviews from Booklist.
David Thurlo was raised on the Navajo Indian Reservation and later taught school in Shiprock, also on the Rez. Aimée, a native of Havana, Cuba, has lived in New Mexico for more than thirty years. The Thurlos share their home with dogs, horses, and various pet rodents. They have written more than fifty novels which have been published in more than twenty countries.
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