A tribal police officer fights inner demons as he investigates a series of killings.
Lt. Sam Chitto of the Choctaw Nation Tribal Police is nearly at his breaking point after the death of his young wife and his continued failure to solve the 10-year-old murder of his police-officer father. A geologist by training, Chitto is considering quitting the police until he’s asked to quietly investigate a case that rightly belongs to the FBI. In Oklahoma, the state is chopped up into many tribal areas mixed in with nontribal lands, and the tribal police force’s inability to arrest anyone but Indians allows many criminals to slip through the cracks. The body of a naked white man with his head chopped off has been found on the Choctaw council-house grounds four days after a ceremony took place. Since the victim was married to a Chickasaw, Chitto will work with Sgt. Frank Tubbe of the Chickasaw Nation while they try to keep the FBI in the dark. Chitto’s mother, a councilperson deeply involved in tribal affairs, is just one of the many people unhappy with the failure of official efforts to prevent and prosecute rape, the most common crime police deal with. When Chitto’s investigation reveals that the dead body is not the first to be found four days after a ceremony on various tribal grounds, he realizes that he needs to learn more about the rituals of his culture and enlists the help of cultural anthropologist Leslie Anderson, an attractive friend of his mother. The men who were killed were linked only by their propensity toward violence against women. Chitto, who’s being followed as he investigates, wonders if someone in law enforcement is leaking information. When he does discover the truth, he has a tough decision to make.
This fine procedural debut by Clifton, who’s published several teen novels (Immortal Max, 2014, etc.), is made even more interesting by its detailed information on Native American ceremonies.