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Land of Echoes    by Daniel Hecht order for
Land of Echoes
by Daniel Hecht
Order:  USA  Can
Bloomsbury, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Tommy Keeday is a talented art student who studies at a New Mexico boarding school for gifted Navajo children. Lately he's been suffering from violent seizures that leave the school's doctor, Joseph Tsosie (along with various other specialists) stumped and leaning toward a diagnosis of some sort of self-inflicted psychological disorder. But Tommy's family believes the teen is possessed by a chindi, the hostile spirit of a dead ancestor. They say that if the ghost is not exorcized soon it will take full possession of Tommy and eventually kill him. Desperate to find the answer, and also to downplay any negative repercussions that could arise against her and school, principal Julieta McCarty contacts paranormal investigator, Lucretia Black.

Cree Black is an empath who came into her powers after the untimely death of her husband. She and her two assistants, Ed and Joyce, have garnered a growing reputation for their work. But even so Cree finds her methods are generally a hard sell, particularly when dealing with the medical community. Julieta McCarty's no different; she sees Cree's cure as a last resort. But as Tommy's attacks continue to escalate, both women know that his time is running out. Julieta grudgingly agrees to let Cree handle the case her way. Now it's up to Cree to discover once and for all whether Tommy is suffering from a rare brain disorder, or whether the legends of Navaho skin walkers are true.

Daniel Hecht presents an interesting and complicated paranormal mystery in Land of Echoes, one that examines Tommy's possession from all angles. At times the story meanders as Cree delves into Tommy's family history and unearths secrets that Julieta and a few old enemies would prefer stayed hidden. But it's all worth it as Hecht takes the story to an unexpected and heartbreaking conclusion. I plan to back-track and read City of Masks (first in the Cree Black series), and look forward to re-visiting Cree and her friends again when they embark on their next paranormal mystery.

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