Publisher/Format: Books in Motion audio books,
Narrator: Stephanie Brush
Characters: Fr. John O'Malley
Subject: Murder, life on an Indian Reservation
Setting: ficitional Indian Reservation in Wyoming
Series: Wind River Reservation mysteries
Genre: amateur detective
Source: public library audio download
Coel manages to give us an excellent picture of the traditions, rituals, beliefs, and utter despair sometimes experienced by Native Americans remaining on reservations with little economic opportunity to improve their lives. Through the eyes of O'Malley and Holden, along with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Police Chief, the Indian housekeeper Elena, and various tribal elders, we are invited in to experience the beauty of the high plains and the hope and desperation of generations trying to maintain a way of life in danger of disappearing in the name of progress. I read the first one in the series, The Eagle Catcher, last October, and decided to see if the series was worth pursuing. They definitely were.
The Fr. John O'Malley character combines the humanity and vunerability of J.A. Jance's J.P. Beaumont with the understanding and acceptance of a Van Alstyne or a Brunetti; the settings are reminiscent of Tony Hillerman, or Nevada Barr and the plots are just unique and involved enough to carry the reader from page to page without the hair twisting psychological drama so many current writers seem to be enamored of. Coel's respect for Indian traditions and rituals is very apparent and is allowed to stand along with and blend well with the Christian ethic espoused by the Jesuits. The stunning presentations of human frailties, life's big and small problems, along with good police and detective work, and just a hint of romance (or at least good strong friendship) make them winners for me. I will definitely be looking for the rest of the series - there are 15 in all.