The Shaman Sings

James D. Doss, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (230p) ISBN 978-0-312-10547-1
Science and mysticism, ghosts and hard-edged cop work combine to stunning effect in this first novel set in Native American lands of Colorado. Daisy Perika, an aged Ute shaman, sees images of imminent death in her dreams and outside her remote trailer. Daisy understands her visions. Not so Scott Parrish, chief of police in a nearby town, who has similar experiences while investigating the murder of Priscilla Song. Song, a researcher at the university, was stabbed to death while working on her computer. The obvious suspect in the university murder is the Mexican handyman, who compounds his guilt by taking off cross-country and leaving corpses in his wake. Yet soon after the murder, a miraculous breakthrough in the application of superconductors, Song's field, is announced by another professor. Clues in the case include cryptic letters the victim left on a computer screen, odd abrasions found in the roof of her mouth and the fact that her research is missing. Doss keeps his reader's attention focused by nimbly leaping among points of view: the killer answers to a hidden Voice; the cop stumbles along, comprehending little; Daisy's spiritual reveries are rife with legend and symbolism; the canny caretaker and a big, dumb cop named Piggy conduct a bloody yet oddly humorous chase that manipulates the reader's sense of sympathy. Doss, an electrical engineer, sets off quite a spark with this ambitious, successful debut. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/1994
Release date: 02/01/1994
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