Publication Date: October 1997 by The Berkley Publishing Group
Summary: The people on the Wind River Reservation struggle financially. Most of the Northern Arapahoe and Eastern Shoshone barely eke out a living. Father John O’Malley, who runs the St. Francis Mission, struggles right along with them. When the United Power Company comes along and promises an influx of much needed cash in exchange for storing some nuclear waste in “safe containers” on the reservation, most of the people jump at the glib promises.
But there are enough dissenting voices to concern the UPC. Their representatives approach Father O’Malley and ask him to support their cause. They know he has a lot of influence in the community. One of the most vocal protestors is a woman named Vicky Holden. Vicky grew up on the reservation, but is now an attorney living in the nearby town. More educated about the hazards than most, she is fiercely and vocally against the UPC’s plan. This puts her at odds not only with UPC, but also with many in the Native community who want to have a better standard of living for themselves and the generations to come.
After Father O’Malley finds a murdered man and Vicky receives death threats, it is obvious that someone will stop to nothing to get the UPC plan approved.
Comments: After I got about a third of the way through this book, I realized this is the one in the series I’d read before, back when it was first published. At the time, I wasn’t very impressed and didn’t read any more of the series. Then, while browsing in my local library several months ago, I came across the second in the series, Ghost Walker, and picked it up. I really liked that book, so picked up the third. I still can’t say I love this one, and I didn’t like it as much as Ghost Walker, but I think that’s partly because it lacked some subtlety in the “evil corporation” lesson.
However, the book did get me to do some research online on the Wind River Reservation. And I’m looking forward to reading more in the series to learn about Coel’s characters as well as the realities of reservation life.
Recommended for mystery readers and anyone interested in learning more about present-day Native American life.