An Ella Clah Novel
Publication Date: April 2004
Other Editions of This Title: Mass Market Paperback
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Before the new nuclear power plant can be built, the power company must help the Navajo reclaim a long-unused uranium mine. The plan is to collapse the old shafts and refill the area with new soil, but the first explosions trigger unplanned subsidiary collapses. Ella Clah, attending the dedication and purification ceremony, acts quickly when she sees a young child sliding into the exposed tunnels. She saves his life but is herself trapped underground.
A few days later, Ella, little the worse for her nightmarish near-death experience, is checking out reports of vandalism and arson. It seems that gun control advocates on the Rez have made some enemies-enemies who soon kill for the first time, when an arson fire claims the life of the wife of a Navajo Councilmember. The home of local radio host George Branch--who may have incited the fatal arson-burns to the ground, destroying all of Branch's personal possessions, including his extensive gun collection.
Ella's investigations are hampered by what happened to her at the uranium site. Both her brother Clifford, a Navajo medicine man, and her cousin and fellow Navajo Police officer, Justine Goodluck, are convinced that Ella wasn't just unconscious when she was rescued. To all appearances, they say, Ella was dead. Justine believes that Ella's survival was a miracle; Clifford says that his hataalii abilities showed her wandering wind spirit the way back to her body. Regardless, traditionalist Navajo are reluctant to be near or even speak to Ella, fearing that since she was dead, she has been contaminated with chindi and become evil. Even some of her fellow police officers are uncomfortable in Ella's presence.
If she cannot interview witnesses and can't work with other cops, what is Ella to do? She finds solace in the unquestioning and unchanging love of her young daughter and the unflagging support of her brother, who nonetheless recommends an older hataalii who may be able to perform a special blessing ceremony for Ella. Still, it's clear that Ella's life has been changed, perhaps permanently, and that she may no longer be an effective police officer.
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.
"A hair-raising opening. The Thurlos hit all the right notes." --Booklist on Wind Spirit
"Gripping. The Thurlo team brings the tensions inherent in Navajo life alive by showing the myriad ways in which the tribe's traditionalists conflict with the progressives. The Thurlos also focus on how modern crime investigation conflicts with the Navajo belief in chindi, or the evil that remains at death scenes and must be avoided. A spirited blend of Navajo culture and police procedure."--Booklist (starred review) on Tracking Bear
"Tracking Bear is a great police procedural that gives readers an insightful look into the culture of the Navajo living on the reservation today. The who-done-it is complex, compelling and exciting."--Midwest Book Review
"Realistic, fast-paced, and intense. Action scenes keep the plot moving at a quick pace with some surprises along the way, adding to the excitement."
--School Library Journal on Changing Woman
"Red Mesa is an engrossing mystery as intricately woven as a fine Navajo rug. It kept me guessing to the end."
--New York Times bestselling author Margaret Coel
"A fascinating story. Ella Clah, strong and vulnerable at the same time, is an intriguing character of great depth, and the surprise ending will delight all mystery lovers."
--Romantic Times on Red Mesa
"An intense, spellbinding family drama in which the battle between good and evil affects both modernist and traditionalist Navajo. Prime reading for fans of Tony Hillerman and other Southwestern mysteries."--Library Journal on Red Mesa