When a former cop is killed on a Navajo reservation, all the forces of the Tribal Police are brought to bear.
Special Investigator Ella Clah used to date Harry Ute, a PI who was once a fellow cop. When his mutilated body is found shot to death in his pickup truck, it appears that the dangerous witches known as skinwalkers may be to blame. Rumors spread quickly, and the whole Rez is soon in fear. Traditionalists call in singers to do ceremonies to protect people. Ella and her partner and cousin Justine focus instead on the cases Harry was working for his boss, Bruce “Teeny” Little, who has his own plans to solve the murder but is being closemouthed about some of Harry’s caseload. He admits that Harry was working on the theft of some San Juan County property without revealing the name of his client. Harry, whose laptop, cellphone and notebook are missing, was last seen in a bar with a redheaded Navajo woman who may have been a prostitute. Ella’s current beau, sexy detective Dan Nez of the county police force, is working along with FBI agent Dwayne Blalock on all the off-reservation connections to the murder, including the owner of a trading post who may be selling illegal ancient pottery along with the items stolen from the county. Modernists and Traditionalist Navajos have diverse views, but they’re all unsettled by the murder. So are Ella and her family, who are threatened and attacked by the killers.
The prolific Thurlos are at their best with the Ella Clah series (Black Thunder, 2011, etc.). Though this one isn’t terribly mystifying, the information on Navajo life is well worth your time.