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The Summoning God    by Kathleen O'Neal Gear & W. Michael Gear order for
Summoning God
by Kathleen O'Neal Gear
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2001 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Summoning God is the second in a series of Anasazi mysteries. Its authors take an innovative approach, in which a modern archaeological investigation gives the reader clues about events in the past. Both historical and modern characters are engaging, with interesting backgrounds and relationships. In particular, the dialogue amongst the archaeologists scintillates, which is not too surprising since both authors hold impressive credentials in the field.

The story told in the Anasazi past is based on the assumption of a religious war between the First People, followers of the Flute Player, and the Made People, who are Katsinas worshippers. This is as vicious as any holy war in the past, with butchery, burning and cannibalism, sparing none. The story centers on Browser, war chief of the Katsinas and his friend and fellow warrior Catkin. They discover a horrific slaughter at Aspen village and try to prevent a recurrence amongst their own people.

In the present, Dusty Stewart and cohorts are digging out clues to what happened to the same villagers as they unearth bones from a kiva site at Pueblo Animas. Dusty quickly realizes that he needs help from anthropologist Maureen 'Washais' Cole. Sparks fly when they are together, due to differing philosophies and a strong attraction between them, and there are many amusing moments to do with details of camp life.

The Anasazi story in The Summoning God is a thrilling blend of religious war, treachery, and the occult. A thread of past child abuse links historical and modern characters as does a sensitivity to the arcane. The archaeologists' tale is equally fascinating, with strong characters and insights into the investigation of one of the great mysteries of the past, that is the disappearance of the Anasazi people. My only disappointment in the book was that it really should be read after the first of the series, The Visitant, which I now intend to track down.

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