Aimée and David Thurlo are prolific authors, having penned over 50 books together during their 40 year marriage. Black Thunder was ther first book I'd read by this pair.
Black Thunder is the 17th book to feature Ella Clah - a Tribal Investigator for the Navajo Police. A local construction crew working on the rez uncovers a body. Cause of death - 2 bullets to the back of the head. But when more bodies are found and county lines crossed, other law enforcement groups are brought in. Ella has to deal with rival agencies, warring personalities and honouring Navajo beliefs while trying to find what looks to be a serial killer.
The Thurlos have lived in the New Mexico area for many years and David grew up on the Navajo reservation. This intimate knowledge of their settings shows in their work. Descriptions are detailed and accurate. More fascinating though is the exploration of Navajo customs and life - Traditionalists vs Modernists, not using someone's name and much more. I learned quite a bit via Ella Clah.
"Ella took a deep breath. Death and police work went hand in hand. Yet deep inside her, the little Navajo girl who'd been taught never to wish anyone dead out loud because that could have the power to kill, and not to put her shoes on the wrong feet because it could call death, still respected the old beliefs. They whispered a different set of truths, but ones that were as much a part of her as the badge she wore. For years she'd fought against that duality, but she was a product of two cultures and both deserved respect."
A subplot involves Ella's personal life - her teenage daughter, her mother and a boyfriend. This adds a personal note and makes Ella even more likable. Aimée Thurlo also writes romance under the Harlequin Intrigue imprint. At times I found Black Thunder to have undertones of the romantic mystery genre. The plot is good, but it really wasn't difficult to suss out who the killer was. Sometimes the coincidences that lead to the next step or clue were a bit too pat. I do prefer my murder mysteries a bit more complicated.
This is a solid series featuring an appealing lead character, a great setting and believable situations. Fans of Tony Hillerman would enjoy this series. Read an excerpt of Black Thunder.