The Thurlos immerse readers in present-day Navajo culture in their series set on a New Mexico reservation. Ella Clah, special investigator for the Navajo Tribal Police attends a ceremony to close uranium mines that have killed many over the years when the earth suddenly caves in, and Ella finds herself buried in a hole.

Once revived, Ella is reluctant to disclose her near-death experience, especially since traditionalist Navajos fear she's been contaminated by her association with the dead. As she investigates the murder of an unpopular councilman who supported handgun registration, the traditionalists are unwilling to speak to her until she has participated in a cleansing ritual. Before they can locate the native to perform the ritual, suspicious incidents threaten Ella's life.

Through Ella, whose father was a Christian while her mother remained a traditionalist, the authors' highlight the difficulties of a Navajo culture divided by their beliefs. Though the study of Navajo life forces the mystery to take a backseat, Wind Spirit is both enthralling and entertaining. (Apr., 320 pp., $24.95)
Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick