Margaret Coel’s Eagle Catcher

Margaret Coel, The Eagle Catcher (©1995, Berkley Prime Crime 1996)

It think it was Julius Lester who named Margaret Coel  as one of  his favourite crime writers. And Tony Hillerman has provided a cover quote for this paperback: ‘Shouldn’t be missed … a master!’ I love Lester’s writing, and Hillerman’s, so these recommendations carried weight with me.

This is the first of the Wind River Reservation Mysteries, also known as the Arapaho Indian Mysteries, and I put it down to teething problems that it’s a bit clunky in places, a bit obvious as a whodunnit and a bit predictable in its climactic scene. But I’m not sure I read crime novels for the puzzle any more, if I ever did, or for the fine writing or innovative plotting. Often it’s the milieu that counts: Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh, Henning Mankell’s Sweden (but not Africa), Tony Hillerman’s Dinee. That, and the appeal of following a detective – whether it’s Lord Peter Wimsey or Sam Spade – through a series of reassuringly similar mazes. This book has the Arapaho reservation in Wyoming, which bears a strong resemblance to Tony Hillerman’s Navajo reservation in New Mexico, but does have a life of its own, and a pair of detectives – a tall redheaded Jesuit and a Arapaho woman lawyer – who offer a multitude of possibilities: a definite mutual attraction that each of them has to suppress, and a hint at the end that their collaboration will continue.

And then there’s the no-pressure history lesson about contact between whites (Niatha) and Arapaho, and the easy-to-take introduction to aspects of Arapaho culture.

Excellent for reading on the plane.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.