CRY DANCE by Kirk Mitchell


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A derivative but nonetheless nail-bitingly intense hunt for a psychokiller through southwestern Indian reservations, tawdry casinos, and brooding Grand Canyon scenery, featuring dogged Bureau of Indian Affairs homicide investigator Emmett Quanah Parker and spunky rookie FBI special agent Anna Turpinseed. Historical and mystery novelist Mitchell (Fredericksburg, 1996, etc.) adopts Tony Hillerman’s device of relying on old and young American Indians to surmount personal, cultural, and spiritual traumas as they track a killer. Thrice-divorced Parker, a half-breed Comanche, is notorious for his gung-ho persistence and hot-headed histrionics—he frequently vows to maim and kill his well-intentioned but oafish superior, Burk Hagiman. But eventually he warms to his partner Turpinseed, a half-breed Modoc whose feisty attitude hides a childhood of abuse from her drunken father. The two are after the person who skinned the face off a beautiful but corrupt Bureau of Land Management official, Stephanie Roper, then severed her spine, and finally dumped her body into a corner of the Grand Canyon that’s part of Arizona’s Havasupai Reservation. Parker and Turpinseed discover that Roper was waffling on a deal that would have swapped Indian land for a piece of federally owned turf in California fronting the highway leading into Las Vegas. The site is coveted by the Inter-Mountain Gaming company for a multi-tribal Indian casino. Just as Parker arrives to question Inter-Mountain’s Jamaican president Nigel Merrison, he surprises the killer, with dreadlocks dangling from his hair, as he drops Merrison’s mutilated corpse into Lake Tahoe. Their prey escapes after stabbing Parker’s left hand. Meanwhile, Turpinseed decides to go undercover as a dealer at the casino where Roper’s Lakota lover and Indian rights activist Cyrus Fourkiller (who wears his hair in dreadlocks and was furiously scrubbing his hands hours after Merrison was killed) has been spotted. A breathless page-turner that overcomes its by-the-numbers plotting and gore with memorable Native American myths and an outdoorsman’s respect for the Southwest’s brutal beauty.

Pub Date: March 9th, 1999
ISBN: 0-553-10810-7
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1999


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