INAGEHI by Jack Cady

INAGEHI

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An introspective novel by the author of The Sons of Noah and Other Stories (1992, not reviewed), in which a Cherokee woman's examination of the circumstances surrounding her father's death leads to a flirtation with the dark side of Native American cosmology. In August 1957, Harriette Johnson returns to the North Carolina mountains of her girlhood to find an explanation of her father's death in 1950. Lawyer Judge Alan holds that Peter Lee, an elderly local, killed Harriette's father because he was mindlessly destroying the earth. The legal-minded local sheriff wants only to arrest Johnson's murderers. As Harriette continues her investigation, she finds further obstacles. On one occasion, she discovers a dead bird on the seat of her car, on another a dead snake wrapped around the vehicle's radio antenna. Research into her family history solidifies her belief that her father died at the hands of Nunnehi, thought by Native Americans to be part human and part spirit. Harriette's quest culminates in her viewing of a phantasmic reenactment of her father's murder by spirits. The sheriff explains afterwards that Judge Alan's father swindled Peter Lee by selling him worthless land, which Lee later sold to Harriette's father, who excavated the land for nonexistent minerals and was subsequently punished by his own people. Alan blames Lee for Johnson's death to deflect attention from his family's dishonesty. Cady has created a believable and resonant central character, and the Native Americans here are individuals, not stereotypes. The entire story is retold by a friend of Harriette's, however, a refraction that does the novel little good. Although it falters occasionally, Inagehi effects a taut blend of the mythical and emotional aspects of human life.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-913089-50-8
Page count: 272pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1994




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