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Earthway: An Ella Clah Novel    by Aimée Thurlo & David Thurlo order for
by Aimée Thurlo
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2011 (2009)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Earthway, the first mystery I have read in Aimée and David Thurlo's series starring Special Investigator Ella Clah of the Navajo Tribal Police, has left me keen to track down the fourteen earlier entries.

At this point (the fifteenth in the series) Ella shares a home with her mother Rose, her stepfather Herman Cloud and her eleven-year-old daughter Dawn (though the latter spends most of this story in Washington, D.C. with her father Kevin). Ella has strong ties to her brother Clifford, a hataali (Navajo healer). She is very close to Christian minister Bilford Tome, a trained cryptographer who used to be an FBI agent and still has links to the intelligence community. And her second cousin, Justine Goodluck is Ella's partner on the job.

Ella's latest investigation begins with a bang, literally, as a pipe bomb explodes in the Shiprock community college, where Ford was to give a lecture. Officer Ralph Tache is badly injured in the blast. Reverend Tome was probably the target, but why? Navajo Traditionalists resenting his preaching Christianity? Activists trying to stop a nuclear power plant about to be installed on the Rez (Ford has been monitoring the suspect's communications for the FBI)? Or something from his past? If the latter, he's not talking about it. But the attacks continue, fast and furious, barely foiled by Ella's vigilance.

Ella's team pursues all these lines of investigation, as well as the possibility that an abusive ex-GI 'who blames the preacher for the split between him and his wife' is targeting Ford. And she enlists her old friend Teeny, an IT and computer consultant who does PI work on the side, to do his kind of digging. As the plot thickens and the action escalates, Ella's life is complicated further by her ex's mention of a probable (once in a lifetime) job offer for her in D.C. from a new investigative firm headed by former FBI agents. Should she take it?

Of course, Ella and her associates solve the puzzle and save the day, allowing her to walk in beauty once more and to celebrate her daughter Dawn's homecoming. If you haven't found this well written, exciting series yet, then you have lots of catching up to do. Don't miss it.

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