Navajo Police Special Investigator Ella Clah confronts every cop's nightmare in TRACKING BEAR: the murder of a fellow officer. A member of her SIU team is shot execution-style at an abandoned gas stat-ion on the reservation. The first mystery is how someone managed to kill the officer without any sign of a struggle; the second arises when Ella unearths a connection between the downed officer and a controversial proposal to reopen the uranium mines on the "rez" for a Navajo-owned nuclear power plant.
The Thurlos masterfully create a sense of place for the reader. After just four chapters, I was having nightmares about the Four Corners. One key weakness in the writing, though, is their tendency to attempt to do in dialogue what is normally done in exposition. The result is that the dialogue doesn't sound like the character speaking it. Despite this and some other weak characterization aspects, the novel is a quick and enjoyable read. (Apr., 384 pp., $24.95)