Promising new author Ms. Baker's winning debut is a tale of internal and external conflicts of those torn between the ways of the past and the reality of the present.
A Navajo raised by a white couple, Jake Lonewolf has a foot in both worlds, but the overriding force in his life is his responsibility as the last Stargazer. Times are desperate as Kit Carson tries to destroy the Navajo nation. Lonewolf can't convince the tribe about his devastating visions. Banished from their camps, he climbs into the caves of Canyon de Chelly.
Years into the future Officer Willow Becenti is investigating the murder of a young Navajo when a man dressed as a warrior emerges from a cave. Willow believes he is involved in the murder, and Lonewolf believes she is Kit Carson's spy, but Willow's very traditional grandfather quickly realizes Lonewolf's identity.
Willow, who has denied the ancient forces in her blood, is concerned about her young ward Manulito, who has mysteriously slipped into a coma. Lonewolf realizes why he has been brought to this century. Manulito is the next Starway Shaman, but unless Lonewolf can perform the required ceremony, Manulito will die.
(Jan., 320 pp., $5.99)