Tony Hillerman has raved that Margaret Coel is "a master" and Booklist has called her work "outstanding." Here, the author returns to the Wind River Reservation and leads Father John O'Malley and his friend, Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden, into a deadly struggle over vice, virtueand murder...
When the body of a white man is recovered from a shallow grave in one of the most troubled corners of the Wind River Reservation, Father John O'Malley knows that if the murderer isn't caught quickly, this tragedy will only be the beginning. The victim's widow is already out for revenge. And the one person Father John believes could lead him to the killer is a terrified fifteen-year-old girl running for her life...
In the meantime, Father John's old friend Vicky Holden has just been hired as in-house counsel at the newly opened Great Plains Casino. But trouble is brewing, as an angry group of protesters known as the Rangers is bent on proving the casino is a house of evil...and shutting it down for good. And there are some who believe that the group's shadowy leader, Captain Jack Monroe, is responsible for killing the man found at the reservationand that it's only a matter of time before he'll kill again.
As tensions rise, the two work feverishly to sort out the story. But when Vicky stumbles across some trouble evidence, she's suddenly caught in a dangerous gamewith her own life at stake...
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Berkley paperback, August, 2004, ISBN: 978-0425197509
Want to read about Margaret's thoughts on Killing Raven? Read an interview with Margaret on BookReporter.com.
Read the new review in a German magazine: Magazin fur Amerikanistik!
"Bestseller Coel's ninth superbly crafted outing for Father John O'Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden after 2002's The Shadow Dancer opens with the discovery of a dead body at Double Dives, a remote area where the less savory citizens drink and party on the Wind River Reservation. The murder brings Father John of St. Francis Mission into the picture and soon embroils him in much more, along with his almost-too-dear friend Vicky. She and Lakota lawyer Adam Lone Eagle represent the interests of Great Plains Casino, the rez's new venture and the tribe's highest hope for the future. A group of self-proclaimed "rangers" are harassing casino-goers and employees, and Vicky becomes the object of their campaign. Yet it's these men's words that prompt her to take a closer look at the number of casino workers linked to commission chairman Matt Kingdom. And this leads Vicky to a sickening revelationif Matt Kingdom is dirty, how can Adam not also be involved? As Vicky digs for answers, she comes dangerously close to a criminal thicket that seems entwined with the casino. Coel keeps her readers sweating, guessing and turning the pages. Of all the writers of Native-American mysteries compared to Tony Hillerman, Coel is the one who most deserves the accolade."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Coel deserves kudos for having created an accurate, perceptive portrayal of life on a reservation. She gives us a sympathetic look at the poverty and lack of opportunity that permeate the economic climate of the reservation. And her take on the complex problem of Indian casinos is balanced and thoughtful. Obviously Father John and Vicky realize that it is a situation that can be both helpful and harmful to those they care about. This approach gives substance to a well-constructed, entertaining mystery.
The characters are believable and well developed. Father John and Vicky Holden have always been interesting characters in this series. The unresolved sexual tension between the two is somewhat unusual in mystery fiction. And, if Father John shows how difficult it is to balance teaching Christianity and respecting native customs, Vicky illustrates the many different pressures with which a modern Native American must cope. Adam Lone Eagle is another character struggling to live in two worlds. In addition to her realistic main characters, Coel has shown the great diversity in personalities and beliefs among Indians of the same tribe. As one who has read a number of Native American authors, I think Coel has been sensitive and objective in her portrayal of Indian life.
Clearly, this mystery is competently and satisfyingly told, but many readers will remember most the empathetic look at the problems Native Americans face. Thoughtful, solid mystery."
Beverly J. DeWeese, Deadly Pleasures Magazine
"Father John's and Vicky's decision to remain just friends offers an undercurrent of unfulfilled romance, which adds weight to the intrigue. Coel's expertise on the Arapaho people provides realistic insight into the trials of Native American people. Add murder and a tangled web of deceit, and this is a tightly woven, suspenseful read."
RomanticTimes.com (4.5 out of 5.0 stars)
"The characters are written with knowing compassion; tribal life in modern times is portrayed in depth. The pace of the story never lags, and the main characters are unique and sympathetic..." Read the full review.
"A key theme in this series has always been the love between two unlikely people; Father John O'Malley, a troubled but truly dedicated Catholic priest and Arapaho Vicky Holden.... In this tale, that relationship moves forward, in a way. I admire Coel for taking on the topic to start with - it's always been well-wrought, meaningful, without pathos and she skillfully explores the boundaries of love and friendship." Read the full review.
"Killing Raven is an interesting look at the Arapaho culture by an author who is a recognized authority in this area. It probes the gritty reality of reservation life, where compulsive drinking and gambling are a way of life." Read the full review.
"This is an excellent whodunnit mystery. It keeps you in suspense and on the edge of your seat. Margaret Coel does an excellent job of keeping the story smooth and fast paced..." Read the full review.
"Killing Raven is a fascinating who-done-it [with an] exciting and fast-paced story line. Margaret Coel gives the reader a real sense of what it is like living on a reservation and why some people can never leave the land they call home." Read the full review.
I Love a Mystery Newsletter
"I enjoyed Ms. Coel's take on the modern day Indian culture. The Indians portrayed are well into the twentieth century but still hold their old traditions and beliefs sacred. I do believe Ms. Coel could give Tony Hillerman a run for his money in this genre of writing." Read the full review.
The novels of Tony Hillerman, which are set in Arizona on the Navajo reservation, are known to millions worldwide. Also in Germany he has a firm readership.
In contrast, Margaret Coel is still at this time a "secret tip" - at least for German readers; because her books exist for the moment exclusively in the English language. Meanwhile she has all the elements and the story-telling strength to stand equally beside Hillerman; after all, some of her titles have made it to the "New York Times" best-seller list.
The term ["detective/criminal novel"] only insufficiently describes her books. Although the core of her books is always a criminal case, Margaret Coel presents these on the foundation of life in the Wind River Indian reservation in Wyoming, homeland of the Shoshone and Arapaho.
This forest-rich, mountainous area with its deep canyons, the mysterious forest ravines, the clear rivers and brooks and green-satiated mountain meadows is by far not as frequently visited by tourists - especially not from Europe - as for instance the Navajo area of the Hillerman novels. Here there is much to discover, and here one still meets the mentality of the Western plains. The Indians here differ strongly from the peoples of the Southwest. The summers are brief and hot, the winters long and severe. Country and climate exercise their effect on the people who live here. They are the successors of the legendary chieftain Washakie, which Margaret Coel describes.
In the center of her stories is the missionary John O'Malley, pastor of the catholic St. Francis mission on the reservation. He knows the Indians, and they respect and like him. They trust him more than the officials of the federal authorities.
If criminal offences happen on the reservation, Father O'Malley has bigger chances than the local policemen or the FBI to find the guilt party. Next to him, the Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden plays an important role.
Current problems of everyday reservation life form the backdrop for Coel's spellbinding stories. In KILLING RAVEN, the concern is the opening of the [belonging to the tribe] Great Plains Casinos, against which a group of protestors wage a [storm]. The group doesn't shirk from murder.
The argument between traditional values and the opening for new developments and a spearhead to the economic progress for the improvement of the living conditions on the reservation are basic elements of the story.
Whoever reads Margaret Coel's books experiences more about real life on the reservations of the northwest plains than from some scholarly works. A believably constructed, greatly written, atmospherically strong and psychologically founded, realistic history.
Magazin fur Amerikanistik
Killing Raven was the number one bestseller on the Independent Booksellers Association (IMBA) list for September!
Killing Raven is one of January Magazine's New & Noteworthy Picks!