Aim e and David Thurlo have won the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award for their romantic suspense, the Willa Cather Award for Contemporary Fiction, and the New Mexico Book Award. They are coauthors of the Special Investigator Ella Clah series, the Lee Nez series of Navajo vampire thrillers, and the southwestern Sister Agatha cozy mysteries. Aim e, a native of Cuba, lived in the US for many years. She died in 2014. David was raised on the Navajo Reservation and taught school there until his retirement. He lives in Corrales, New Mexico, and often makes appearances at area bookstores.
YA‘Ella Clah, a special investigator with the tribal police on the Navajo Reservation, is determined to find the serial killer who is methodically murdering Dineh (Navajo) cultural leaders. Faced with staff shortages, threats to her own family, and the illogic of the psychopathic killer, Clah draws on her experience as an FBI agent and her intuition to solve the increasingly horrific crimes. A strong, intelligent woman, Clah devotes her life to protecting the Dineh, one of the central themes of the story. She provides an eyewitness account of the routines of police work, emphasizing the daily grind of law enforcement as well as finding clues to the murders. Constant attention is paid to the changes in terrain and weather. Characters develop into unique individuals with talents, strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies. Even minor characters take on individuality through in-depth and detailed descriptions, which add significantly to the continuity of the story. YAs, especially those looking for strong females in contemporary settings, will find Clah and her assistant and cousin, Justine Goodluck, appealing examples. A fast-paced, intriguing novel.‘Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
The Thurlos introduced Ella Clah, former FBI agent who is now a special investigator for the Navajo tribal police at Shiprock in what is recognizably Tony Hillerman territory in Blackening Song. Like Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, Clah makes use of both her law enforcement training and her understanding of tribal traditions to investigate crime on the Navajo Reservation. When an elderly Navajo historian is murdered, Clah must separate fact from rumor and myth to find the culprit. Reservation gossip and artifacts at the crime scene point to the skinwalkers witch cult, villains of Blackening Song. Ella Clah is a tough, appealing heroine, who faces personal conflict between professional duty and pride in her heritage. But she's ill served by this loose plot, in which she and her assistant, Justine Goodluck, engage in repetitive interview scenes that slow the pace and blunt the suspense. Two more tribal Elders, specialists in ritual and the Navajo language, die before the investigators get on the right track-more than halfway through the book. Then everything quickly falls into place, and the tale ends with an anticlimactic final chase. Readers may wish that Chee or Leaphorn were around to step in when necessary and set this sidelined plot on a faster course. (June)
"Mystery readers who like their murders solved by applied intelligence will love Ella Clah, the Thurlos' tough, believable, and brainy [heroine]." --Tony Hillerman"Death Walker is suspenseful and appealing; an intriguing mystery set against--and deeply rooted in--a beautifully described Rez and the people who live there. I grew up in Flagstaff, near the reservation; I recognized the people in the Thurlos' pages at first glance." --Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author