Doss, the only writer talented (and goofy) enough to have you suspecting he might be related to both Hillerman and Hiaasen, presents a shaggy dog of a mystery that combines scary Native American mythology, martini-dry wit, and impish plot twists. When young Sarah Frank crunches a spider, her aged roommate, Ute shaman Daisy Perika, warns her that Grandmother Spider will soon be looming to exact revenge. The words are barely out of her mouth when the locals are reporting sightings of an eight-legged “thing” as big as a house, all lit up, near Navajo Lake, where two trucks have been abandoned by restaurant-parts hauler Tommy Tonompicket and William Pizinski, chief scientist at RMAFS, Inc., which handles classified defense contracts. Acting tribal police chief Charlie Moon, Daisy’s nephew, and his white pal Scott Parris, police chief of nearby Granite Creek, work together to scotch the UFO rumors, avoid FBI and BIA intrusions, and—when Tonompicket and Pizinski finally reappear and are hospitalized—protect them from Eddie Zoog and his gorgeous niece, who want to serialize their tale of alien abduction, true or not, in the tabloids. There’ll be a pair of deaths, a serious maiming, and a hint of romance for Charlie before the unexpected, hilarious finale, which finds Charlie out of work and the spider switching genera.
Very amusing, and when you stop laughing and retrace all the clues, you realize that not even Agatha Christie could have planted them more cunningly. Charlie’s sixth adventure is every bit as dazzling as his debut (The Shaman Sings, 1994).