AT EASE WITH THE DEAD by Walter Satterthwait


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Santa Fe's personable Joshua Croft (Wall of Glass), who runs a detective agency with wheelchair-bound young widow Rita Mondragon, has been hired for an offbeat job by Navajo elder Daniel Begay. In 1925, the bones of Navajo warrior Ganado were stolen from their canyon grave by oil geologist Dennis Lessing, who brought them home to El Paso as a gift for his 12-year-old daughter Alice--already showing signs of the gift for anthropology that eventually made her famous. Less than a month later, Lessing was murdered the bones disappeared the case never solved. Now a Ganado descendant is being troubled by dreams of her ancestor, and Begay, something of a mystic, thinks recovery of the bones and their proper burial would help her. The first of Joshua's fragile leads is Alice Wright, nÉe Lessing, in El Paso. Now in her feisty, articulate 80s, she provides other avenues for him to explore--Emmett Lowery, professor son of Lessing's fellow geologist; Martin Halbert, an oil tycoon whose father had backed the expedition that discovered the Ganado remains. A son of one of the Navajo guides is also still around and may be helpful. What Joshua hasn't expected, however, is a surge of violence seemingly connected to his inquiries--his tires are slashed; he's beaten up; Alice Wright is found murdered; and there's more nastiness to come before Joshua brings a mysterious chapter to an end. Well written, paced and plotted, in the author's easy-going, easy-to-take style, with interesting sidelights on Navajo lore and the Southwest landscape. Good work and satisfying entertainment.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's