cover image Second Shadow

Second Shadow

Aimee Thurlo. Forge, $21.95 (382pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85450-8

The authors' background as romance novelists--David is an uncredited coauthor on many of Aimee's books--and their extensive knowledge of Native American lore are both evident in this overlong mainstream thriller. Aside from a few disconcerting shifts in viewpoint, the story is seen through the eyes of Irene Pobikan, a Tewa Indian who banks her architectural career on the restoration of a Taos landmark--the hacienda of a Spanish family with a history of mistreating her tribe. Tight deadlines force architect and construction crew to live on the isolated Mendoza family grounds. The project seems to be jinxed: relations between the Spanish and Indian members of the construction crew are tense; accidents turn out to be sabotage; and Pobikan and the construction foreman have a hard time working together. Adding to the complication are the Mendoza siblings: Raul, to whom Pobikan is attracted; his alcoholic brother Gene; and beautiful but slightly retarded sister Elena, who guards a secret. The discovery of skeletal remains on the property begins to bring things to a head but the drawn-out struggle--including the ongoing attempts to catch a mysterious hallway lurker--eventually becomes ludicrous. In addition, calculated cliffhanger endings to every chapter shriek of formulization and rob the novel of spontaneity. (Nov.)