Special Investigator Ella Clah (White Thunder, 2005, etc.) of the Navajo Tribal Police has murder on her hands and something close to that in her heart.
Years after he wooed and won her, Kevin, Ella’s smoothie of an ex-husband, has set his eye on their daughter Dawn, upsetting custodial arrangements that have worked just fine. Ella is infuriated by his late-blooming paternal interest, but she has to contend with Kevin’s wooing of Dawn: lavish presents, special attentions charmingly rendered, subtly subversive suggestions that eight-year-old girls are entitled to more from their moms than a career in law enforcement permits. Professionally, Ella faces the relentless pressure of a high-profile homicide with disturbing internal ramifications. The aptly named Jimmy Blacksheep, a New Mexico National Guardsman recently returned from overseas duty, has been gunned down in an apparently simple highway robbery. Ella’s intuition, however, identifies it as something different, something nastier involving Jimmy’s brother Samuel, a fellow police officer, and perhaps involving Jimmy’s entire National Guard unit in a deep-rooted conspiracy with truly explosive potential. As if all that weren’t enough to keep Ella fretting, another threat to her settled way of life looms when her own mom announces her engagement.
Surprisingly muted here is the theme the Thurlos have always worked so well: the ongoing internecine warfare between tribal traditionalists and modernists. Fans may grow restless.