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Wife of Moon    by Margaret Coel order for
Wife of Moon
by Margaret Coel
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

This mystery features Father John O'Malley, stationed on the Wind River Reservation, and his friend, Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden. The two become embroiled in the murder of Denise Painted Horse, wife of a prominent businessman. Denise was active in the cultural life of the reservation and was as well known as her husband.

Father O'Malley is further troubled by the disappearance of the curator of the modest Arapaho Museum attached to the St. Francis Mission. Christine Nelson is newly hired, a treasure Father O'Malley had not expected to find, given the inadequate salary the Mission can offer. She is both competent and energetic. It is Christine who organized the highly successful Edward S. Curtis exhibit, the precious century-old photographs of Plains Indians borrowed from a larger museum. As Father O'Malley probes into her disappearance, he finds that quiet Christine has secrets of her own.

Coel skillfully interweaves the modern-day problems facing Father O'Malley and Vicky with the events of a century before. The crisis on the reservation has its roots in the past, and the author brings to vivid life the events of 1907. The author's note at the end gives a brief outline of Curtis's career. The photographer was real, and Coel's masterful incorporation of historical reality into her fictional story adds to a compelling and entertaining tale. She also makes clear, without overkill, the injustices and intolerance that First Nations people have faced and still face. Wife of Moon is well worth the read.

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