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Four moon gifWilliam Morrow (Hardcover), ISBN 0-380-97722-2
What's not to enjoy about the Charlie Moon mysteries? Other than the fact Doss doesn't write them fast enough, not a darn thing. Grandmother Spider, number six in the series, proves the point and does it in a manner that entertains and elucidates while providing a provoking mystery and a cast of very well-fleshed, individual and often eccentric characters.

Blending modern murder, ancient beliefs, the paranormal, and Ute myths and legends into a charming tale of mayhem and murder most bizarre, Grandmother Spider kept my attention from beginning to end. And kept me chuckling along the way. Set on the Southern Ute Reservation in present day Colorado, the book gives a unique view of the relationship between Tribal Policeman Charlie Moon, his aunt (the elderly Shaman Daisy Perika) and Daisy's housemate and ward, nine-year-old Ute-Papago orphan, Sarah Frank.

Book: James D. Doss, The Shaman SingsSarah kills a spider and neglects to perform a protective ritual. Daisy tells her Grandmother Spider will come out of her cavern under Navajo Lake and seek revenge. Shortly after sundown, two men disappear from the lakeshore under mysterious circumstances. Minutes later a huge something, with a man in its clutches, passes Daisy's trailer home. Charlie and Scott Parris, Granite Creek Chief of Police, find a scattering of mutilated and broken bodies in the trail left by the something. The shaman consults a Ute power-spirit. It confirms her beliefs in Grandmother Spider. Charlie and Scott seek a more modern explanation for the crimes.

Each of the Charlie Moon books stands alone and can be enjoyed without reference to earlier books. But I must add, "I'll bet you can't read just one." Lighter in tone, but just as intelligently written as any of Tony Hillerman's mysteries, Doss' books add new elements to that genre. If you haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting Charlie and his interesting cohorts, Grandmother Spider provides a grand starting place.

Patricia Lucas White

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