The Silent Spirit
When the body of Kiki Wallowingbull, a troubled young Arapaho is found on the frozen banks of the Little Wind River on the sparse, open plains of the Wind River Reservation, the murder looks like the results of a drug deal turned deadly. Except for the fact that Kiki had recently spent time in Hollywood trying to uncover the truth of what happened in 1923, when his great-grandfather had gone to Hollywood with other Arapahos and Shoshones to star in the silent film, The Covered Wagon. Kiki's great-grandfather was the only one not to come home. Through the decades, the family has held to the belief that he was murdered in Hollywood. Now the family is convinced that Kiki was killed because of what he had learned, and that someone is still determined to keep the past buried.
When Jesuit priest Father John O'Malley and Arapaho lawyer Vicky Holden are drawn into the investigation, they find themselves on a trail that leads through the dark world of drugs on the Wind River Reservation and, ultimately, the giddy no-holds-barred world of Hollywood in the 1920s, when the studios made the law and the murder of an Arapaho actor could be swept away.
Margaret Coel has a gift for crafting "compelling characters... to entertain her loyal fans" (The Denver Post) in each and every one of her Wind River Reservation mysteries. Now, in The Silent Spirit she relies upon sparse and dead-on prose to interweave themes of vengeance, social justice, and the powerful forces of memory in order to uncover the truth of the past and connect two homicides separated by nearly a century.
Read an interview
Read a Q & A with Margaret from the Casper Star-Tribune
Berkley Hardcover, September 2009, ISBN: 978-0425229767
BUY THE BOOK
Order online from an independent bookstore via IndieBound, Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
"...Coel's absorbing...14th Wind River mystery to feature Arapahoe lawyer Vicky Holden and Fr. John O'Malley... Series fans will be satisfied as well as primed for the next opportunity to follow this pair and their uncertain future."
"...the story mixes murder with daily life on today's reservations and offers a fascinating glimpse of the film business of the 1920's when Native Americans worked as extras in westerns. A good choice for fans of Tony Hillerman."
Sue O'Brien, Booklist
"Heartbreaking yet hopeful, The Silent Spirit provides a strong argument that one person can make a difference."
Mystery Scene Magazine
"Empathetic characters, colorful settings, and a well-plotted story make this a solid entry in Coel's long running series. Definitely recommended."
Beverly DeWeese (read the full review as a PDF)
"Once again, Coel presents a riveting tale, one far more than just a mystery. Her characters are well-rounded and appealing, wrestling with personal concerns while trying to protect their charges and right wrongs. Although much has changed since the 1920s, prejudice and injustice continue to exist, particularly in the case of minorities."
Bookloons.com (read the full review here)
"Yet another wonderfully detailed book about life on the Wyoming Indian reservation, The Silent Spirit will bring you to another world and teach you something about the American past and present."
ReviewingTheEvidence.com (read the full review here)
"No one is any more skillful at intertwining the past and present in a crime novel as Margaret Coel. And, The Silent Spirit, the fourteenth book in the Wind River mystery series shows Coel at her best. She vividly portrays life on the Wyoming reservation, while mixing in episodes from the history of the Arapaho tribe."
Lesa Holstine, Lesa's Book Critiques (read the full review here)
"I love a story that leads me to take a look at myself and my culture. In The Silent Spirit, Margaret Coel pulls off this feat by weaving together real life and compelling fiction. In 1923, the Arapaho and Shoshone Indians participated in the first epic Hollywood western, The Covered Wagon. Coel spins a tale that reaches across three generations, and Arapaho attorney Vicki Holden must unravel a heart-rending tale of love, betrayal, and murder."
Debby Atkinson, author of Pleasing the Dead
"...the background history that we are given as to the parts that Native Americans occasionally played in the silent movies is priceless. And fans of previous Margaret Coel novels who have enjoyed observing the push-pull relationship that exists between Vicky Holden and Adam Lone Eagle, with Father John as a sort of hapless and unwilling third wheel, will appreciate the continuation of those relationships in The Silent Spirit."
"The author continues with an outstanding ability to create characters and situations that blend with western culture and downtrodden Native Americans, and combining the well-written episodes with an interesting mystery story. Recommended."