Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Eagle Catcher

This book is the January selection for the reading group at Once Upon a Crime Books, a wonderful independent mystery bookstore in Minneapolis.

This is the first in a series of novels by Margaret Coel. This is not a novel I would have chosen for myself. It starts very slowly and it took quite a while for me to care very much about the characters. But the last few chapters are filled with suspense and action that kept me flipping pages until the end.

Coel documents the history of lies and manipulation by white people toward native populations in interesting ways. For instance, when looking for a motive for murder, the white people keep focusing on money. The answer is revealed not in a bid for money, but in respect for the land and the Arapaho ancestors.

Coel has a couple of interesting, flawed but likeable characters to build a series upon. The main character, Father John is a Catholic priest who runs a mission, and a softball team, on the reservation. His character development lags until halfway through the book, a fatal flaw if I hadn't wanted to finish the book for the group meeting.

A young Native lawyer, Vicki Holden, is torn between living on the reservation and moving with her Lakota boyfriend to a big law firm in Los Angeles.

My checks around the internet indicate the following novels in the series are improvements over this beginning, but I'm not sure I'm interested enough to follow through.