The Night Visitor

James D. Doss, Author William Morrow & Company $23 (392p) ISBN 978-0-380-97721-5
An old lady shaman, four backbiting paleontologists, a con man, two orphans, two cops and a ghost: from this grab bag of real and unreal Americans, Doss conjures up his fifth Shaman mystery, a quirky, satisfying follow-up to last year's The Shaman's Game. This time, Ute tribal cop Charlie Moon is asked to keep an eye on Horace Flye, an Arkansas rapscallion straight out of Mark Twain. Horace inexplicably has found employment with a team of paleontologists digging up Nathan McFain's ranch. Rumor has it that Nathan himself discovered a mammoth tusk with butcher marks--possible evidence of a human kill site dating back 31,000 years. Just as the feuding scientists consider publicizing their remarkable find, Horace disappears, leaving behind a bratty six-year-old daughter named Butter Flye. Moon brings Butter to his aunt Daisy Perika, an elderly shaman who has other worries, chiefly a mute, mud-caked, blue-eyed spirit holding an egg who has been loitering around her trailer in the dead of night. Once again, Doss dazzles with his trademark blend of Native-American folklore, science, satire and suspense. Sometimes there's too much of a good thing: vivid but extraneous minor characters muck up the action, and an extended subplot involving series regular Police Chief Scott Parris and his journalist girlfriend seems tacked on for old time's sake. But wry Officer Moon and irascible Daisy continue to charm as the series' lead characters. The dialogue crackles, and the Southern Colorado atmosphere astonishes, especially at night. Author tour. (Sept.) FYI: The Shaman's Game will be published in mass market paperback in August.
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999
Release date: 09/01/1999
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