Thursday, March 10, 2011
Bone Walker, An Anasazi Novel
This was an unusual choice for me. I picked it up thinking it might be a mystery similar to a Tony Hillerman novel. Actually it is two separate storylines, one set in ancient times and the other in present day New Mexico. They play out over the same area, converging and parting, advancing to a combustion of both times and characters.
The authors, Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear are anthropologists and archeologists, and their expertise is what makes this book work, also what made it interesting to me. There are witches in the story, and modern people as well as Anasazi who believe in the witches' powers. There are characters who admire the Indian culture and customs and others who only want to prey on them and steal their valued artifacts. And there is a love story, a relationship that builds from friends and colleagues to an emotional tie that won't be broken.
The Anasazi characters are a little difficult to figure out at first, but once the reader gets to know them, their unusual names aren't a problem. Most have names like Rain Crow or White Cone, Indian names such as we are used to hearing. However, the hero is Browser, one of the First People, and the woman who loves him is called Catkin. He is War Chief and she is his best warrior; perhaps explaining why it takes him so long to realize he loves her. I was drawn also to the relationship between Browser's old uncle and a strange, abused female child he befriends. He calls the child Bone Walker, discovering only at the end that her real name is Piper.
The modern hero is Dusty Stewart and his childhood abandonment by his parents figures largely in the story. His love interest is Dr. Maureen Cole who has been called in from Canada to help in a dig. The first murder victim happens to be the man who raised Dusty, someone everyone (except the murderer of course) loved. Both stories are engrossing and held my interest even though this is a large book and includes detailed description of this part of New Mexico.
I didn't realize until I finished the book that it is the third in a series, but I don't believe that had any effect at all upon my enjoyment of the book. I recommend this older book from 2001, especially to readers who like me love to learn about Indian culture and are fascinated by archeology. The wonderful characters are just the icing on a delicious cake.