To some, satellite-phone service on the Navajo Reservation is an idea to die for. To others, it’s to kill for.
Navajo entrepreneur Ervin Benally believes he’s doing his people a favor. Clearly, satellite phone service will enhance Reservation life, so why shouldn’t there be a buck in it for him? Special Investigator Ella Clah (Mourning Dove, 2006, etc.) is not disposed to argue until trouble breaks out. First, an accidental death turns out to be not so accidental. Next, the victim’s widow is brutally beaten. Finally, there’s the ugly plotting of the Fierce Ones, a local gang of hotheads convinced the Tribal Police are a worthless bunch of wimps, and that swift, no-nonsense vigilante justice should be the Navajo way. It takes some time for Ella to sort out how much of the Fierce Ones’ rambunctious activity is aimed at Ervin’s project and how much is garden-variety Rez restlessness because she’s distracted by personal problems. Should she let her daughter Dawn accept a scholarship to a posh Anglo school? Should she get in the face of the female nutcase whose hatred of her seems obsessive? But duty demands that the personal yield to the professional, and Ella is nothing if not dutiful.
Life on the Rez is what the Thurlos do best, but here it’s upstaged by busy, busy plotting.