Forge, April 2003, 24.95, 384 pp.
Money is scarce on the Navaho reservation and the lack of funds in the police department means less officers and increasingly faulty and out of date equipment. Officer Frankin calls in a possible burglary in progress and requests help but the broken radio stopped working before he can give a location. By the time Ella Clah, the officer in charge of the special investigations unit, finds him, he is dead with a bullet in his brain.
It is clear that money is needed to upgrade the equipment and hire more officers. NEED (Navaho Electrical Energy Development) thinks they have the solution to the problem. They want to build a small clean nuclear power plant on the reservation believing it is a step in making the tribe self-sustaining. There is a large segment of the Navaho population that doesn't want anything to do with the project and those who are adamantly opposed to the project wind up dead or shot at. It looks like the NEED forces are turning militant but Ella suspects a cold-blooded killer is making it look that way while pursuing a personal agenda.
TRACKING BEAR is a great police procedural that gives readers an insightful look into the culture of the Navaho living on the reservations today. The novel displays the schisms in the tribe between the traditionalists and the modernists as well as the new traditionalists. The who-done-it is complex, compelling and exciting with a plethora of suspects from a grieving father to a Navaho activist. Aimee & David Thurlo have written another fascinating installment in this popular mystery series.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner