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Urban Shaman (The Walker Papers, Book 1) Paperback – June 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Luna; First Edition edition (June 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373802234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373802234
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,347,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

C.E. Murphy is the author of more than twenty books—along with a number of novellas and comics. Born in Alaska, currently living in Ireland, she does miss central heating, insulation and—sometimes--snow but through the wonders of the internet, her imagination and her close knit family, she’s never bored or lonely. While she does travel through time (sadly only forward, one second at a time) she can also be found online at www.cemurphy.net or @ce_murphy on Twitter --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 4th, 6:45 a.m.

T here's nothing worse than a red-eye flight.

Well, all right, that's wildly untrue. There are lots of things worse than red-eye flights. There are starving children in Africa, hate crimes and Austin Powers's teeth. That's just off the top of my head.

But I was crammed into an airplane seat that wouldn't comfortably hold a four-year-old child, and had been for so many hours I was no longer certain what species I belonged to. I hadn't slept in over a day. I was convinced that if someone didn't stay awake, the airplane would fall out of the sky, and I couldn't trust anyone else to do the job.

My stomach was alternating between nausea from the airline meal I'd eaten hours earlier, and hunger from not eating another revolting meal more recently. I'd forgotten to take my contact lens case with me in my carry-on, and my eyes were burning. My spine was so bent out of shape I'd have to visit a chiropractor for a week to stand up straight again. I was flying back from a funeral to be fired.

Overall, starving children in Africa were taking a distant second to my own misery and discomfort. Shallow, but true.

A very small part of my mind was convinced that if the flight attendants would just let me into the unpres-surized luggage compartment to find my contact case, everything would miraculously be right with the world. None of them would let me, so my contacts were welded to my eyes. Every several minutes I decided it wasn't worth it and started to take them out. Every time, I remembered that they were my last pair and I'd have to suffer with glasses until I made an eye appointment.

I might have succumbed, but the glasses in question were also with my luggage. The idea of navigating a soft-focus world full of featureless faces gave me a headache.

Not that I didn't have one anyway.

I climbed over the round man sleeping peacefully beside me and went to the bathroom. At least I could take the contacts out and stew them in tap water for a few minutes. Anything would be better than keeping them in my eyes.

Anything except my reflection. Have you ever noticed that the mirror is by far the largest object in those tiny airplane restrooms? I was a sick pasty color under the flickering florescent light, my eyes much too green against a network of bloodshot vessels. I looked like a walking advertisement for one of those "wow" eye-drop commercials. Second runner-up for Least Attractive Feature on an International Flight was my hair. I put my contacts in two little paper cups and set them ostentatiously on the appropriate sides of the sink, then rubbed water through my hair to give it some life again.

Now I looked like a bloodshot porcupine. Big improvement. The only thing on my person that didn't look slimy was the brand-new silver choker necklace my mother'd given me just before she died. A Celtic cross pendant sat in the hollow of my throat. I wasn't used to jewelry, and now that I'd been reminded it was there, it felt mildly horrible, like someone was gently pushing his thumb against the delicate flesh. I shuddered and put my contacts back in before weaving my way back down the aisles to my seat. The flight attendants avoided me. I couldn't blame them.

I rested my forehead on a grease spot I'd left on the window earlier. The airlines, I thought, must have custodians who clean the windows, or there'd be an inches-thick layer of goo on them from people like me.

That thought was proof positive that I shouldn't be allowed to stay up for more than eighteen hours at a time. I have a bad habit of following every thought to its miserable, pathetic little end when I'm tired. I don't mean to. It's just that my brain and my tongue get unhinged. Though some of my less charitable acquaintances would say this condition didn't require sleep deprivation.

The plane had been descending for a while now, and I squinted at my heavy black wristwatch. The bright orange button for changing the time had become permanently depressed in Moscow, or maybe Venice. Probably Moscow; I'd found Moscow depressing, and saw no reason why the watch shouldn't. It claimed it was 5:50 p.m., which meant it was almost seven in the morning. I frowned out the window, trying to find the horizon. The sky wasn't turning gray yet, not flying into Seattle three days after New Year's. I blinked at the darkness, trying to unglue my contacts again.

My eyes teared up and I spent a few minutes with my hands over them, hoping perversely that I didn't blink the contacts out. By the time I could see again, the captain had announced the final descent into Seattle. Couldn't they find a less ominous phrase for it? I don't like flying as it is, even without the implication that before landing I might want to have all my worldly and spiritual affairs in order. I pressed my head against the window so I could see the ground when it came into view. Maybe I could convince it to let us land without it being our real final descent.

Or maybe not. The plane banked abruptly and began to climb again. A moment or two later the captain's voice crackled over the intercom.

"Sorry about that, folks. Little disagreement over who got to land next. We're going to take another spin around the Emerald City and then we'll have you at the gate right on time."

Why do airline pilots always call passengers "folks"? I don't usually take umbrage at generic terminology—I'm one of those forward-thinkers who believes that "man" encompasses the whole darned race—but at whatever o'clock in the morning, I thought it would be nice to be called something that suggested unwashed masses a little less. Ladies and gentlemen, for example. Nevermind that, being an almost six-foot-tall mechanic, I had a hard time passing for a lady on a good day, which this wasn't.

I watched lights slip away beneath us as we circled. If I have to fly, I like flying into cities in the dark of morning. There's something reassuring and likable about the purposeful skim of vehicles, zooming along to their destinations. The whisk of cars meant that the people driving them had a goal, somewhere to be, something to do. That was a hell of a lot more than I had.

I stared down at the moving lights. Maybe I didn't like them after all.

The plane dropped the distance that made me an active voyeur in people's lives, instead of a distant watcher. I could see individuals under the streetlights. Trees became sets of branches instead of blurry masses of brown.

A school went by below us, swingsets empty. The neighborhood was full of tidy, ordered streets. Carefully tended trees, bereft of leaves, lined uniformly trimmed lawns. Well-washed cars reflected the streetlights. Even from the air well before sunrise, it screamed out, This Is A Good Place To Live.

The next neighborhood over didn't look as posh. Wrong side of the metaphysical tracks. Cars were older, had duller paint and no wax jobs to make them gleam in the streetlights. Mismatched shingles on patched roofs stood out; lawns were overgrown. It wasn't that the owners didn't care. It was that the price of a lawnmower or a matched roof patch could be the difference between Christmas or no Christmas that year.

Not that I knew anything about it.

A whole street went by, lightless except for one amber-colored lamp, the kind that's supposed to cut through fog. It made the street seem unnaturally vivid, details coming into sharp-edged focus below me.

A modern church, an A-frame with a sharp, nasty spire, was lit by the edges of the lone amber light. Its parking lot was abandoned except for one car, parked at an angle across two spaces, one of its doors hanging open. I wondered if it closed at all. Probably: it was a behemoth from the seventies, the kind of car that will last forever. I grew up with that kind of car. Air bags or no, the little crumply things they make today don't seem as safe.

Someone tall and lean got out of the car, draping himself over the door as he looked down the street toward the functional light. Even from above I could see the glitter of light on the butterfly knife he played with, comfortable and familiar. Watching, I knew that he could play knife games in the dark and blindfolded, and he'd never stab a finger.

A woman broke into the amber light, running down the center of the street. She took incredibly long strides, eating a huge amount of distance with each step, but her head was down and her steps swerved, like she wasn't used to running. Her hair was very long, and swung loose, flaring out as she whipped her head back to look behind her.

I twisted in my seat as the plane left the subdivision behind, trying to see.

A pack of dogs leaked out of the darkness. Their coats were pale gold under the amber light, and they loped with the casual confidence of a hunting pack following easy prey.

The woman stumbled, the pack gained and the plane took me away from them.

"You don't understand. There is a woman in trouble out there." It was the fourth time I'd said it, and the pilot kept looking at me like I was on drugs. Well, maybe I was. Lack of sleep has the same effect as certain narcotics. I was lodged in the door of the cockpit, other passengers pushing out behind me. Fourteen minutes had passed since I saw the woman. There was a knot of discomfort in my stomach, like I'd throw up if I didn't find a way to help her. I kept hoping I'd burp and it would go away, but I didn't, and the pilot was still eyeing me.

"And you saw this from the plane," he said, also for the fourth time. He had that bright lilting sound to his voice that first grade teachers use to mask irritation. "There are lots of people in trouble, ma'am."

I closed my eyes. They screamed with pain, tears flooding as I opened them again. Through the upwell, I saw an expression of dismayed horror cross the pilot's face.

Well, if he was going to fall for it, I might as well milk it. "It was five minutes before we landed," I quavered. "We circled around and came in from the northwest." I lifted my wrist to show him the compass on my watch band, although I hoped that, being the pilot, he knew we'd approached from the northwest. "I was looking out the window. I saw a woman running down the street. There was a pack of dogs after her and a guy with a switchblade down the street in the direction she was running."

"Ma'am," he said, still very patiently. I reached out and took a fistful of his shirt. Actually, at the last moment, I grabbed the air in front of his shirt. I didn't think security could throw me out of the airport for grabbing air in a threatening fashion, not even in this post-9/11 age.

"Don't ma'am me…" I stared at his chest until my eyes focused enough to read his name badge. "Steve. Is that your name? Steve. Don't ma'am me, Captain Steve. I just need to know our rate of descent. Humor me, Captain Steve. I work for the police department. You don't want me to go to the six o'clock news after a murder's been discovered and tell them all about how the airline wouldn't lift a finger to help the woman who died."

I didn't know why I bothered. The woman was probably dead by now. Still, Captain Steve blanched and looked back over his shoulder at his instruments. I retrieved my hand and smiled at him. He blanched again. I guess my smile wasn't any better than my hair or eyes just now.

"Hurry," I said. "Once the sun comes up the streetlights will go off and I don't know if I'll be able to find her then."

* * *

I left my luggage in the airport and climbed into a cab, trying to work out the triangulation of height, speed and distance. "Drive," I said, without looking up.

"Where to, lady?"

"I don't know. Northwest."

"The airline? It's just a couple feet down the term—"

"To the northwest," I snarled. The cabby gave me an unfriendly look and drove. "Do you have a map?" I demanded a minute later.

"What for?"

"So I can figure out where we're going."

He turned around and stared at me.

"Watch the road!" I braced myself for impact. Somehow—without looking—he twitched the steering wheel and avoided the collision. I collapsed back into the seat, wide-eyed. "Map?" I asked, somewhat more politely.

"Yeah, here." He threw a city guide into my lap. I thumbed it open to find the airport.

Airplanes go fast. I realize this isn't a revelation to stun the world, but it was a little distressing to realize how far we'd flown in five minutes, and how long it would take to drive that. "All right, we're going northwest of the lake." I remembered seeing its off-colored shadow making a black mark below the plane as we'd left the subdivision behind. "Somewhere in Aurora."

"Think? That ain't such a good neighborhood, lady. You sure you wanna go there?"

"Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm trying to find somebody who's in trouble."

The cabby eyed me in the rearview. "That's the right place to look."

I glared at him through my eyebrows. He smiled, a thin I've-seen-it-all grin that didn't really have any humor in it. He had gray eyes under equally gray, bushy eyebrows. He had a thick neck and looked like he'd be at home chewing on a stogie. I asked if he had a cigarette. He turned around and looked at me again.

"Those things'll kill you, lady."

His voice was rough and deep like a lifetime smoker's. Surprise showed on my face and he gave me another soulless smile, reflected in the mirror. "My wife died of emphysema three years ago on our forty-eighth wedding anniversary. You want a smoke, kid, find it somewhere else."

Sometimes I wonder if I have a big old neon sign stamped on my forehead, flashing Asshole. I retaliated with stunning wit: "I'm not a kid."

Gray eyes darted to the mirror again, and back to the road. "You're what, twenty-six?"

Nobody ever guessed my age right. Since I was eleven, people have misguessed my age anywhere from three to seven years in one direction or the other. I felt my jaw drop.

"It's a gift," the cabby said. "A totally useless gift. I can tell how old people are."

I blinked at him.

"Great way to get good tips," he went on. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

More About the Author

C.E. Murphy was born and raised in Alaska and has since moved to her ancestral homeland of Ireland. She lives there with her husband, a chef, and three very spoiled pets.

She's a full-time writer. Thus far her plans to take over the publishing world are proceeding apace.

Customer Reviews

I would recommend it for anyone who likes urban fantasy and books that bring myths into the story telling.
Wendy Coon
It's a fun, fast read with an engaging main character, well-developed supporting cast, and a plot that keeps you guessing, sprinkled through with a lot of humor.
L. Wallace
I had a difficult time really getting into this book simply because I could not connect with the main character, Joanne Walker.
Jacob's Beloved

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 127 people found the following review helpful By R. Kyle TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Joanne Walker, born Siobban Walkingstick, is returning to Seattle from her Mother's funeral in Ireland. On the plane home, as pilots are making a final pass into the city, she sees a woman being attacked at a church.

Everyone thinks she's crazy. Heck, even she thinks she's crazy, but she's compelled to help this woman. So, she hires a cab and sets out to find trouble in the bad side of town....

That opens the story of Joanne Walker, mechanic-cop for the Seattle PD. In "Urban Shaman" Joanne must quickly learn to accept and adapt to the new powers she has--because lives depend on her.

"Urban Shaman" is a quick read and a good one. I strongly recommend you get into this series. Trust me, if you enjoy Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher and other novels of this type, you will be catching up when the others come out!
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104 of 115 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Hunt on January 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
The author has such a great idea for a story and she is so wonderfully descriptive in her writing that I enjoyed it even though it has many glaring content mistakes. Some of the reviewers were disappointed because they were sold the book as a "Paranormal Romance" and they didn't get any sex scenes, but Amazon sold it to me as a "Native Mystery" along side the Jim Chee and the Charlie Moon series and that's the way I viewed.

The Positive:

There's a fun, vibrant, feel to the way Jo and her battles are written as she tries to save a Marie and the rest of Seattle from Cernunnuos and his Wild Hunt gone wrong; while she's also dealing with her knew found abilities, and some inner pain that she hides even from herself.

The Negative:

The author seems to have only a Hollywood Movie understanding of Police work and less than that of the Seattle PD, Police Hiring Practices, Criminal Procedure, Police Language and less about Police Culture. This is a problem when your main character is supposed to be a Police Officer. The author seemed to have almost NO knowledge of the Qualla Boundary, the place her main character grew up. The character graduated from a Tribal run High School, NOT a BIA school, that prides itself on ALL of its students having a rudimentary understanding of the Peoples' culture, history, and language. In the main character's home town the street signs are in English AND Cherokee and the kids at her alma mater play Stick Ball most days that the weather allows, yet growing up in this environment she had not even a tourists knowledge of the name of the community or the culture? These mistakes caused problems in the way characters related to each other and distracted from, an other wise, good story.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 19, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A brief description: CE Murphy's new book "Urban Shaman" tells the story of Joanne Walker, the daughter of a Native American and an Irish woman. Joanne is flying back from Ireland after her mother's funeral, and from the plane as it circles Seattle, spots a woman running away from an attacker. Joanne feels compelled to help the woman, and by doing so, becomes involved in an exciting and fast-paced adventure involving being chased by the Wild Hunt and ancient Celtic gods, and coming to terms with her newly emerged status as a powerful Native American shaman.

I can usually finish a book of this length in a day or two, depending on my available time and level of fatigue after a day at work. It took me about three or four days to finish this book, because I kept putting it aside, pondering what I knew of the subject matter (Native American and Celtic mythologies) against what I was reading, and then just deciding to tackle it all another day. That makes me sound sort of cynical and dismissive, which is not exactly true, but the truth is, I started off thinking this was going to be a really terrific book and ended by being confused and disappointed. This is not to say the book was bad - it wasn't. The basic idea behind this book is exciting and interesting, and I did enjoy much of it. It is very atmospheric, and the descriptions of places, people and events were terrific. I could really "see" everything that was happening. The part where Joanne meets the dead shamans in the star field is lovely, very nicely done. The action sequences are good (if confusing later in the book). There are also parts of the story that are quite well done in terms of relating the sense of suspense and terror. I even found myself a bit nervous after reading certain passages while at home alone late one night.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kate Kirby on July 13, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is worth your time.

The main character is imminently competent and likeable, with a very strong voice. One of the strongest and well written protagonists I've seen in a while.

The story is also good - solid Urban Fantasy. And solid fun from cover to cover - this one is a page-turner. I recommend starting it on a Friday night when you don't have any big weekend plans!

Don't be turned away by thinking this is Luna, so a romance with fantasy trappings. It's not.

Belongs on a bookshelf next to Emma Bull's _War For the Oaks_ and Terry Windling's _Borderlands_ anthologies.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I bought this book over a year ago. Started and stopped reading three or four times because it strained my ability to suspend my disbelief. I finally forced myself to finish it today. If you like mostly linear stories with action on the physical plane of existence, the credibility and authenticity of a coherent magical system, and characters that have believable motivations for their actions this book is NOT for you.

Even if I wanted to sum up and detail the plot of this book I couldn't. Here's what I can tell you: the main character is unconscious or in a different plane of existence for much of this book without any real explanation for why she is there or how she got there. She also has powers that are labelled as "shamanistic" but without any actual definition as to what that means or what limits, if any, the power has.

There is a mishmash of Celtic mythology and characters, the gratuitous Native American Coyote who spouts fortune cookie sounding advice that, even in retrospect, makes no sense at all, and a lot of nonsense about the afterlife and rebirth with no commitment to any concrete belief system: real or imagined.

I can honestly say I have no clue why anyone would rate this as anything above 3 stars (and that's for those who are generous in their ratings) and do not understand how anyone would pick up another book in this series based on what I just read. The best part of the book is the opening chapter, where the main character is stuck on a plane and describing with a great deal of wit, the discomfort of sitting on coach in an international flight. It all goes down hill from there.
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