Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review: Black Thunder

 Black Thunder is the latest book in Aimee and David Thurlo’s Ella Clah mystery series. Together, they’ve written more than 15 books in this series. Even though this is the first book I’ve read in the series, the Thurlos did a great job of easing in enough information that I never got lost or felt lost.

Ella Clah is a Special Investigator for the Navajo Police. After finding bodies buried on the Navaho Reservation, she and her team, along with a partner from the New Mexico State Police, set out to find a serial killer.

Ella Clah has a lot to deal with, beyond the case. Her daughter is the age when most kids begin to rebel, her mother doesn’t seem to be her usual self, and Clah’s longtime companion has stronger feelings for her than she does for him. Plus, there’s taking a bullet to keep a little boy from being shot in the head.

I have to say that I guessed the serial killer before the reveal, but that did not hurt my enjoyment of reading the book. I may have guessed the killer, but I didn’t guess the killer’s motivation. Besides, figuring out who dunnit meant much less to me than reading about the Native American culture and people. That, to me, was fascinating. Over the course of the book you learn a lot about the Navajo culture and way of life. The Thurlos wove it into the storyline and ended up making me wish I could go to New Mexico and sit down with Officer Clah, her mother, Detective Nez and Dr. Roanhorse. Or, better yet, be invisible and follow them around.

Characters and setting in a book don’t often come alive for me. They did in Black Thunder.


Barnes and Noble

Powell’s Books

I give Black Thunder a rating of Hel-of-a-Cast
FTC Disclaimer: Black Thunder was sent to me by Karen Lovell with Forge Publicity. That did not influence my review. Ella Clah did. She’s a fully realized person walking a thin line between the “modern” world and the traditionalists of the Navajo nation. Like the rest of us, she has more than just her job to deal with. She’s smart, independent, caring, strong, and can shoot a gun. Like me. Okay, like me without the being-able-to-handle-a-gun part. And the strong part. I’d’ve been crying like a baby if someone shot me or even shot at me. Or pointed a gun at me. Clearly, I need to be braver … or read more Ella Clah mysteries.


  1. Great disclaimer! LOL. And thanks for the review--I'm interested in the Native American culture, too...and enjoy books where there's a lot of different conflicts going on (and it sounds like Ella Clah is surrounded by them!) Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. It sounds like one of Tony Hillerman's Jim Chee mysteries which I very much enjoyed. Native American culture is very interesting and there isn't enough of that out there,like there aren't enough novels based in Michigan on the Great Lakes! Great review, Helen. I like your rating system.

  3. It's so fascinating to learn about other cultures. And I agree with both of you, Elizabeth and Yvonne, the Native American culture is very interesting.

  4. I love stories where an unfamiliar (to me) setting allows me to learn more about other cultures and traditions.
    It's probably a good thing that you didn't know how to shoot a gun while your computer was broken. Now that that's past...go to a gun range.

  5. The only way I could be brave about the gun thing is if it was pointed at my wife - then no amount of fear would stop me.
    Book sounds interesting! I'll have to look for it.

  6. Sounds like one I'd read. Helen, I'm betting you'd be a tough cookie in a pinch.

  7. I interviewed the Thurlos some years ago and enjoyed their responses. I lived for two years in Farmington, New Mexico, among the Navajos, as they've done. In fact, David was born and reared in Shiprock, which is on the reservation, so we had a lot to talk about. I love their books and I'm looking forward to reading Black Thunder.

  8. I'm thinking of branching out to write mysteries with a romantic duo solving the crimes. Black Thunder will come in handy for learning the rope about writing mysteries.

    My Darcy Vibrates…


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