Navajo Police Special Investigator Ella Clah (Enemy Way, 1998, etc.) has been squabbling with her cousin and fellow officer Justine Goodluck. Justine has been uncharacteristically distracted, less the impeccable professional than she usually is, and Ella, her boss, has had to point out her recent failings. It’s no big deal, nothing major—until Justine is reported murdered, her body horribly hacked to pieces, and Ella inexplicably becomes suspect number one. Never mind that the cousins had been close for ages, or that nothing in Ella’s heretofore brilliant record suggests a Hannibal Lecter lurking beneath the surface. Clearly, what matters most here is bringing the plot to a boil. So the Thurlos’ sixth relentlessly piles on evidence against Ella. Someone out there doesn’t love her and is determined to pay her back for disservices rendered. On the Navajo reservation, anti-Ella feeling, irrational though it appears to be, intensifies. Friends cold-shoulder her. The estranged father of her child wants his daughter removed from Ella’s clutches. Justine’s relatives wouldn’t mind if she were tarred and feathered. Her weak-kneed colleagues gather to arrest her, and she goes on the lam to escape them. But not to worry. Ella, standing tall, rectitude her shield, disposes of the ersatz case against her, and a couple of vengeful bad guys bite the dust.
More soap opera than mystery. As for the negative portrayal of the Navajos—who come across, with barely an exception, as suspicious, superstitious, and meretricious—those long-suffering people should demand a recount.