cover image Blackening Song

Blackening Song

Aimee Thurlo. Forge, $22.95 (380pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85652-6

Thanking Tony Hillerman for his help and inspiration, the Thurlos (Second Shadow) launch a promising mystery series set in the Southwest. FBI agent Ella Clah is called home to the Navajo Nation reservation after the mutilation murder of her father, a Christian preacher. Ella's brother, Clifford, a Navajo hataali, or traditional medicine man, has fled, which makes him a suspect. Initially, Ella finds herself an outsider among the tribe she abandoned when she was 18 in order to carve a career off-reservation. She pursues the killer, wading into treacherous reservation politics and the perpetual conflict between traditionalists and reformers. Along the way, she realizes, despite what she has told herself, that she hasn't forsaken her own Indian soul. Contrasting the high-tech and hyperrational methods of the FBI with the ritual world of the Navajo (native witchcraft figures prominently), the Thurlos ratchet up a lot of suspense. Throw away logic and enjoy. (June)