SKY WOMAN FALLING

Kirk Mitchell, Author . Berkley Prime Crime $22.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-425-19191-0

Mitchell combines a great story line with an authentic Native-American background in his flawless fourth mystery (after 2001's The Ancient Ones ) to feature FBI Special Agent Anna Turnipseed, a Modoc, and Bureau of Indian Affairs investigator Emmett Parker, a Comanche. When the body of Brenda Two Kettles turns up in a frozen field near her New York reservation, her severe injuries leave no doubt that she fell from the sky, just like Sky Woman in the Oneida story of creation. Enter the Feds' Indian hunting party, Turnipseed and Parker. The Oneida nation's 1985 win in a Supreme Court decision has still not succeeded in the return of their rightful ownership of 270,000 acres now in the hands of about 60,000 white people. Finding an answer seems impossible, though many forces are at work to reach a peaceful resolution. Yet how does an Oneida Indian take a commercial airliner and end up falling to her death? Anna becomes increasingly aware that the solution is somehow connected to the Oneidas' creation story. As the body count rises, she and her almost-lover, Emmett, realize they have no time to work on their damaged personal lives. As a former deputy on the Paiute-Shoshone Indian reservations in California, the author knows the real issues facing Native Americans today. Packed with suspense and action, this intricate tale delivers a conclusion that is nothing short of brilliant. (Nov. 4)

Forecast: Because of the graphic violence in his books, Mitchell is unlikely to win as wide a readership as Tony Hillerman. On the other hand, those who like grittier crime novels should give this a boost.

Reviewed on: 10/13/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
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