Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Spirit and the Skull-J.M. Hayes

The Spirit and the Skull
J.M. Hayes
Poisoned Pen, Aug 5 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202841

The Earth Mother told Raven the Spirit Man to lead the People across the land bridge into the promised land of plentiful bounty and warmth.  However, once they trek over the Bering and begin heading south, one of the leaders Tall Pine dies.  On the verge of becoming a woman Down insists to Raven that someone murdered Tall Pine.

Although the fortyish Raven finds it hard to believe one of the People would commit fratricide, Mother demands that her Spirit Man investigate and identify the killer.  Raven realizes the only suspect is Down; a girl he is attracted to and wants once she becomes a woman though he knows as the Spirit Man his tribe demands purity from him.

The prehistoric whodunit is entertaining, but superseded by a dramatic deep look at a tribe during the Paleolithic era as armchair readers will feel as if we journey with the People.  A potent cautionary environmental tale as each ripple impacts the future; the audience will marvel at the contrast between the pristine Paleolithic landscape and Raven’s vision of a time when his skull lies in a lab while mankind has destroyed Mother Nature.

Harriet Klausner

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