A veteran writer of nonfiction on the West, Coel introduced Father John O'Malley previously in The Eagle Catcher (1995);...

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THE GHOST WALKER

A veteran writer of nonfiction on the West, Coel introduced Father John O'Malley previously in The Eagle Catcher (1995); here, in the second of what may become a series, another mystery is engagingly constructed around the professional (and personal) trials of O'Malley, leader of the St. Francis Mission to the Wind River Indian Reservation in winter-blasted Wyoming. This time there's enough violence, addiction, and incipient romance to keep more than one spiritual advisor on military alert. Father John discovers and then loses track of a body in a ditch. Subsequently, a business cartel threatens to close the Mission; the daughter of the tribal lawyer--a lovely ""woman alone"" and proven ally named Vicky Holden--comes home with a drug habit in the company of strange men; and two jobless braves go missing. Not to mention that the clerical Toyota pickup is blindsided. Father John is a recovering alcoholic; he prevails one day at a time, emptying a whiskey bottle into the Wind River, locating the murderer, and even finding a way to fund Arapaho basketball. Coel's inoffensive series (or series-to-be) in the Hillerman tradition finds a space where Jesuits and Native Americans can meet in a culture of common decency. The stories could benefit from a less polite tone and less attention to the minutiae of food, clothing, and--in this case, cold--weather.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996