cover image Black Thunder: An Ella Clah Novel

Black Thunder: An Ella Clah Novel

Aimée and David Thurlo. Forge, $24.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2451-1

In the Thurlos’ satisfying 17th novel featuring Navajo policewoman Ella Clah (after 2010’s Never-Ending-Snake), a remote area near a steep-sided outcrop called Hogback becomes a murder scene with the accidental discovery of a buried body with two bullet holes in the skull. More grave sites in the same area, including one just outside tribal boundaries, make it a multijurisdictional investigation bringing in San Juan County (N.Mex.) sheriff Paul Taylor and FBI agent Dwayne Blalock. Tracking the victims, some dead for several years, complicates the investigation. An attempt to get rid of a possible witness, a young boy playing near Hogback, heats the action. Meanwhile, Ella must deal with the needs of her teenage daughter, Dawn; mother, Rose Destea; and romantic interest, Rev. Ford Tome. Navajos known as the Fierce Ones threaten to worsen the situation with vigilante justice in this insightful portrait of a native culture still evolving between tradition and modernity. (Nov.)