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2018 Book #30 - Mourning Dove by Aimee & David Thurlo



Police procedural set on the Navajo reservation. The detective is a Navajo woman who has come back home to the rez to work in the Tribal police force after some time in the FBI. A Navajo GI just back from Iraq has been murdered in what looks like a carjacking, but some of the details don't add up. Then she gets a package in the mail from the dead man, which contains a story that sounds like a Navajo myth, but isn't one. It appears to be in a kind of code, but there's no key and it appears unfinished. She takes it to her brother, who is a medicine man, and a priest who collects myths and writes books on the subject, but they're stumped, too. The elusive meaning of the story hovers over the investigation.

Detective Ella Clah is a substantial character, but she lacks flaws. I have trouble relating to someone so healthy-minded. Her personal and family life are believable and resonant; that's probably the best part of the book. The police stuff is solid in a conventional way, except for too many shootouts. The Navajo culture angle is interesting, but it's not the heart of the matter. Her police methods are pretty standard. This is no Tony Hillerman novel, where the crime can't be understood without getting deep into Navajo identity.

I liked reading a detective story from a female perspective. It's a good airport novel, but not in the same league as a great crime writer like Patricia Highsmith, Martin Cruz, or Elmore Leonard. I prefer quirkier, more flawed characters, I guess. I feel like I'm being a bit hard on it; it definitely kept me reading. It's just not something I will be thinking about for long.
Tags: 2018 book reviews
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