A second outing for Seattle parapsychologist Cree Black (City of Masks, 2003) takes her to New Mexico, where an investigation unveils mysteries that have nothing supernatural about them.
Cree is a kind of latter-day exorcist who roams the world seeking the ruin of ghosts—or entities, as she calls them. At an academic conference in Albuquerque, she’s waylaid by one of her old professors, who begs her to look into a particularly troubling case. It seems that young Tommy Keeday, a student at a local boarding school for Navajos, has been tormented for some time now by inexplicable seizures that overtake him without warning and disappear without explanation. The school principal, Julietta McCarty, explains that Tommy is extremely bright and has never been in any serious trouble—physically or academically—before. Tommy’s family is afraid he’s possessed by some dead ancestor, but Cree likes to think in terms of fields, entities, and environments, and in the course of her investigation she finds plenty of psychic disturbance in the general vicinity. Julietta founded the school with the proceeds of her divorce settlement from hated ex-husband Garrett McCarty, a rich miner whose son Donny (four years older than Julietta) had always resented his father’s young trophy bride. There’ve been reported cases of cattle mutilation (a phenomenon associated with aliens and UFOs) on Donny’s property adjacent to the school, and Cree meets with stiff resistance in her attempts to investigate. She also learns that Julietta had secretly had a son by her Navajo lover some 15 years before (while still married to Garrett) and had reluctantly given him up for adoption. Garrett’s accidental death a few years after the divorce looks suspicious, too. Are we dealing with ghosts—or just a bunch of family skeletons?
Hecht writes fluidly and draws convincing portraits of some interesting characters and situations, but the parapsychology slant drives his tale into a swamp of New Age hooey.