From Publishers Weekly
The Thurlos introduced Ella Clah, former FBI agent who is now a special investigator for the Navajo tribal police at Shiprock in what is recognizably Tony Hillerman territory in Blackening Song. Like Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, Clah makes use of both her law enforcement training and her understanding of tribal traditions to investigate crime on the Navajo Reservation. When an elderly Navajo historian is murdered, Clah must separate fact from rumor and myth to find the culprit. Reservation gossip and artifacts at the crime scene point to the skinwalkers witch cult, villains of Blackening Song. Ella Clah is a tough, appealing heroine, who faces personal conflict between professional duty and pride in her heritage. But she's ill served by this loose plot, in which she and her assistant, Justine Goodluck, engage in repetitive interview scenes that slow the pace and blunt the suspense. Two more tribal Elders, specialists in ritual and the Navajo language, die before the investigators get on the right track-more than halfway through the book. Then everything quickly falls into place, and the tale ends with an anticlimactic final chase. Readers may wish that Chee or Leaphorn were around to step in when necessary and set this sidelined plot on a faster course.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA. Ella Clah, a special investigator with the tribal police on the Navajo Reservation, is determined to find the serial killer who is methodically murdering Dineh (Navajo) cultural leaders. Faced with staff shortages, threats to her own family, and the illogic of the psychopathic killer, Clah draws on her experience as an FBI agent and her intuition to solve the increasingly horrific crimes. A strong, intelligent woman, Clah devotes her life to protecting the Dineh, one of the central themes of the story. She provides an eyewitness account of the routines of police work, emphasizing the daily grind of law enforcement as well as finding clues to the murders. Constant attention is paid to the changes in terrain and weather. Characters develop into unique individuals with talents, strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies. Even minor characters take on individuality through in-depth and detailed descriptions, which add significantly to the continuity of the story. YAs, especially those looking for strong females in contemporary settings, will find Clah and her assistant and cousin, Justine Goodluck, appealing examples. A fast-paced, intriguing novel.?Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.