The Spirit Woman
When Father John O'Malley discovers a skeleton buried along the banks of the Little Wind River, close to St. Francis Mission, he and Vicky Holden find themselves in the midst of a mystery that reaches into the past and into the fate of Sacajawea, the Shoshone woman who accompanied Lewis and Clark through the Western wilderness to the Pacific Ocean.
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Berkley paperback August 2001, ISBN: 978-0425180907
Winner of the Colorado Book Award!
"Father John O'Malley, pastor of St. Francis Mission on the Wind River Reservation is walking his dog while trying to come to terms with the fact his superior has told him the time has now come for him to leave. Reluctant to do so, but knowing that his vows include obedience, he is only half aware that Walks-On-Three-Legs has found something in the brush he refuses to abandon. The find is the skeletal remains of a young woman, who turns out to be the historian arrived there twenty years before in search of the lost memoirs of Sacajawea, only to have disappeared without a traceuntil now. History seems about to repeat itself when another young woman historian, bent on the same quest, appears on the reservation. O'Malley and tribal attorney Vicky Holden team up to solve the mystery, both of the historian's death and of the missing memoirs. Coel packs a good deal more than a mystery story in this novel. Domestic violence, with all it has to say about the man who inflicts it and the woman who bears with it, is a recurrent well-thought-out theme of the book, taking it back to Sacajawea's own times. And, in addition, there is a poignant love story woven into these beautifully written pages."
"Coel's images of the vast Wyoming landscape and her knowledge of the history and the Arapaho culture bring believability to this fast-paced story that is hard to match. The Spirit Woman is a winner in every respect."
The Denver Post
"Coel is one of the top story tellers of the sub-genre, ranking with the likes of Tony Hillerman. Highly recommended."
"Coel blends frontier history, complex emotions, and western vistas in a way that is all her own."
"The Spirit Woman is an enjoyable novel. The storyline is logical and believable and, in addition one is treated to two mysteriesthat of the modern day, and the unknown circumstances surrounding Sacajawea's life and death. The information on Indian culture is a bonus, and the human problems that Ms. Coel's characters face easily elicit sympathy from the reader. One is left pondering something more substantial than a clever ending to a mystery story."
The Mystery Reader
"Margaret Coel changes the direction of the series so that there is an added freshness that doesn’t lose the essence of the Wind River mysteries. Read the full review.
"Interweaving the legend of Sacajawea with a suspenseful story makes for a fascinating read. As usual, the interplay between Father John and Vicky is bound to hold your attention." Read the full review.