THE GHOST WALKER by Margaret Coel


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 A veteran writer of nonfiction on the West, Coel introduced Father John O'Malley previously in The Eagle Catcher (1995); here, in the second of what may become a series, another mystery is engagingly constructed around the professional (and personal) trials of O'Malley, leader of the St. Francis Mission to the Wind River Indian Reservation in winter-blasted Wyoming. This time there's enough violence, addiction, and incipient romance to keep more than one spiritual advisor on military alert. Father John discovers and then loses track of a body in a ditch. Subsequently, a business cartel threatens to close the Mission; the daughter of the tribal lawyer--a lovely ``woman alone'' and proven ally named Vicky Holden--comes home with a drug habit in the company of strange men; and two jobless braves go missing. Not to mention that the clerical Toyota pickup is blindsided. Father John is a recovering alcoholic; he prevails one day at a time, emptying a whiskey bottle into the Wind River, locating the murderer, and even finding a way to fund Arapaho basketball. Coel's inoffensive series (or series-to-be) in the Hillerman tradition finds a space where Jesuits and Native Americans can meet in a culture of common decency. The stories could benefit from a less polite tone and less attention to the minutiae of food, clothing, and--in this case, cold--weather.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-425-15468-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1996


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