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Friday, July 12, 2019

A Lot to Love in Engaging, Atmospheric Native American Mystery Series Debut

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Fire-Sky tribal member Sandra Deering had everything going for her, including a college degree she was about to receive.  Why would she have committed suicide just when she stood on the cusp of getting everything she'd worked so hard for?  It doesn't make any sense, especially since Sandra's is the latest in a string of suspicious deaths linked to the Fire-Sky people.  Like Sandra, the victims appear to have been murdered by a killer familiar enough with the tribe's beliefs to make sure his/her victims cannot receive proper burials, dooming their spirits to wander the earth forever.    

Monique "Nicky" Matthews, a sergeant and special agent working with the Fire-Sky Pueblo Police, is called in to investigate.  Along with her partner, a suave newcomer she's not sure she can trust, Nicky begins looking into the odd deaths.  Guided by good police work as well as the strange visions that have always been a part of her life, she uncovers some very sinister goings-on on the rez.  

Determined to catch a murderer and bring closure and peace to the victims' families, Nicky will stop at nothing to solve the case.  With the people she loves being threatened and her own neck on the line, she'll have to risk everything to bring the cold-blooded killer to justice.  Can Nicky catch the culprit in time to save lives or will her spirit be the next to join the tortured souls already on eternal walkabout?

In the tradition of Tony Hillerman, Carol Potenza has penned an exciting, well-written mystery steeped in Native American tradition and culture.  Although the Fire-Sky people are fictional, their beliefs are based on those of known tribes, giving Hearts of the Missing an authentic feel.  The characters in this satisfying debut are well-drawn and complex, the setting is vivid and atmospheric, the plot is taut and twisty, and the prose is skilled and readable.  In short, there's a lot to love here.  I thoroughly enjoyed this series debut and can't wait to see what the next installment brings.

(Readalikes:  I've read very little Hillerman, but Hearts of the Missing definitely reminds me of his novels, as well as the Wind River Reservation mystery series by Margaret Coel.)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (two F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, references to illegal drug use, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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Reading

<i>Reading</i>
Swimming in a Sea of Stars by Julie Wright

Listening

<i>Listening</i>
The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myer



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