Bad Medicine by Aimee and David Thurlo ReviewForge, Nov., 1997.
384 pp. ISBN: 0312863284
Former FBI agent Ella Clah is now a special investigator for the Navajo police force, having returned to the reservation she grew up on after years in the Anglo world. Ella is caught in the middle between her traditional Navajo beliefs and the Anglo world to which she has grown accustomed. Her brother Clifford, a medicine man - or hataali -- tells her that her special gifts of insight and knowledge come from the spirits which guard the Navajo tribe, but Ella maintains that it's just her specialized FBI training that makes her such a skilled investigator. Ella will have cause to call upon all her skills in her latest case. Racial unrest permeates the Navajo-owned mine, a mysterious illness strikes the reservation and a Senator's daughter is found dead after apparently ingesting a deadly dose of poisonous jimsonweed. When Ella's close friend, Medical Examiner Dr. Carolyn Roanhorse, is falsely accused of falsifying the autopsy reports on the Senator's daughter, tampering with evidence and starting the very plague she is trying to cure, Ella redoubles her efforts to solve the murder of the Senator's daughter's death, to clear Carolyn's name, and to defuse the ticking time bomb of racial unrest that is simmering at the tribal mine. Beset by prejudice at every turn from both Navajos and Anglos alike, Ella must face the struggle between her Navajo upbringing and her Anglo training, while solving her most challenging mystery yet.
Aimee and David Thurlo clearly know and love the Navajo culture and their books provide an intriguing glimpse into life on the reservation while highlighting the differences between the traditional Native American beliefs and the values of the outside Anglo world. Ella is easy to identify with as she faces the prejudice shown women in a traditionally male job and the hostility directed at her by her own people because of the time she spent off the reservation learning Anglo during her stint with the FBI. An intriguing mystery, an interesting and likeable heroine and a rich, descriptive background combine to produce an excellent read.
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