My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I know I’ve read other Parker and Turnipseed books probably out of order. This is #2 and it might have been my last if I had read it first. Let me put that in context. The mystery was pretty good. It was something else that really put me off the book.
The story is set on Navajo land but Parker and Turnipseed aren't Navajo (Comanche and Modoc respectively). A cop and his wife were murdered and set on fire. This is Anna Turnipseed's first big case after being tortured in book #1 and Emmett Parker asked for her to be on the case, They are also working with Caucasian FBI agent, Summerfield and Navajo cops, Tallsalt and Yabeney among others.
As more victims are claimed, the killer is obviously deriving his desire to kill from Navajo stories from the Moth Way and the Gila Monster. He sees himself as the Gila and has taken to planting them at various crime scenes. The case bounces between Phoenix and various reservations. And the mystery was very interesting. There really isn't enough to solve it for the first two- thirds of the book and the rest comes later and very fast, one clue after the other.
So I like the mystery part. What I didn't like was Turnipseed and Parker. Okay, I didn't like Parker. I don't remember having a problem with him in other books but in this he's pretty terrible. It's unclear how much he knows about Anna's past, that she's a survivor of incest, abused by her father. At least in the beginning, it's unclear. He certainly knows in the end. At the beginning after seeing the burned bodies, Anna has a nightmare and he is there to comfort her. He makes a sexual move and she is repelled and he goes on and on about this for the rest of the book. Why do men think that this is what a woman wants after a tragedy? (not all men of course but obviously Emmett Parker does and I've known a few personally so that colors my reaction to this).
There is no feel of attraction between them, not to me. Jealousy yes. Seeing each other as a possession would be closer. And Parker acts like a complete and utter patronizing dick to her for the rest of the book. At the end she invites him to join her in a partners of abuse survivors’ therapy meeting with her therapist and he shuts her down. When another woman in the know yells at him for this his reaction is “Then what the hell am I supposed to feel- Some kind of guilt just for being male?”. Wow. That just says all you need to know about Parker. Her asking him to understand what it’s like to be the survivor of incestuous rape is happening just to make him feel bad. He resents a woman he supposedly cares for because he thinks she's trying to scapegoat all men for what her father did. Nice. It's soured me on the whole series.
Other things that annoyed me: Why is it every Caucasian in a pro-Native American book depicted as insensitive asshole? Don't get me wrong. I know that there are many who are. On the other hand, not ALL are, I've been a non-Native worker on a reservation. I'd like to think I wasn't a patronizing racist. Summerfield does calm down as we go along and seems to hate the desert more than the people. I do wonder though why there are never Hispanic or African FBI/Cops in these things. I have a cynical answer for that.
I didn't appreciate the potshot taken at Hillerman's books in this. If the Dine themselves showed their appreciation of the man's works, it's fair to say that they're good and respectful works.
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