Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Girl With Braided Hair - Margaret Coel

The Girl With Braided Hair
Margaret Coel
Berkley Prime Crime


When a skeleton is discovered at the bottom of a ravine on the Wind River reservation, thirty-year-old hurts are uncovered, as well. The skeleton still has a long braid of hair attached, and experts determine that the woman had given birth. There’s also a bullet hole in the back of the skull, clear evidence of murder. Some women on the rez feel that the police aren’t doing much to find the killer, and they turn to Vicky Holden, an Arapaho attorney.

Looking into the case quickly draws Vicky to the past, the 70s, when AIM (American Indian Movement) was strong in the American West. While many of their goals were admirable, there were some who used AIM to carry out their own agendas, using violence. A woman called Liz Plenty Horses was at the Wind River rez during this time, helping fugitive AIM members blend in with other residents. When the FBI came calling, Liz was called an informant, and fled the rez with her infant daughter. No one saw her or the child again.

This investigation causes some personal problems between Vicky and her partner, Adam Lone Eagle, who takes a slightly different view of things. In an attempt to avoid the tension, Vicky recruits Father John to help her. It’s not long before the threats begin. When one of the women who was questioned by Vicky turns up dead, it’s obvious that the killer is still around, and still very willing to kill to keep the past quiet.

Part of a long-running series, THE GIRL WITH BRAIDED HAIR can be read by newcomers quite easily, since the author is careful to include pertinent information throughout the book. No previous knowledge of the location or culture is necessary, and each book provides enough detail to educate any reader. The author creates a very real atmosphere, and even those readers who have never been near a rez will come to understand the unique set of challenges and tradition that reside there. With each new installment, the characters grow and deepen, making the series a find for the new reader, while giving continuing rewards to longtime fans.

Rating: 8
September 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21712-2 (hardcover)


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