THE SHADOW DANCER

Margaret Coel, Author . Berkley Prime Crime $22.95 (291p) ISBN 978-0-425-18640-4

Skillfully combining the rich history of Native Americans with their life in the 21st century, bestseller Coel offers a fresh story that moves as fast as the moccasin telegraph, the reservation gossip line that spreads news faster than the Internet, in this eighth outing featuring Vicky Holden, Arapaho attorney, and Father John O'Malley, priest of the mission on Wyoming's Wind River Reservation. This represents a welcome return to form after last year's The Thunder Keeper, which suffered from an overly familiar plot. Father John is facing the possible closing of the mission and the sudden disappearance of one of his parishioners when Vicky's ex-husband is murdered and she becomes the chief suspect. Circumstances prompt Vicky to forgo Father John's assistance in her search for the killer, but as they go their separate ways, they each struggle to clarify their feelings for each other. In due course their paths cross at the ranch where James Sherwood, called Orlando by his followers, has resurrected the Shadow Dance religion of the 1890s. Can Sherwood deliver on his promise of an Indian paradise? Compared to and praised by Tony Hillerman, Coel not only presents a vivid and authentic picture of the Native American, past and present, but also captures the rugged and majestic atmosphere of Wyoming. Even minor characters are real and human. The poignant ending will catch even the most astute mystery aficionado by surprise. (Sept. 3)

Forecast:Striking jacket art of a silhouetted bird above an isolated storm-threatened church will help lure casual browsers.

Reviewed on: 08/19/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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