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Urban Shaman    by C. E. Murphy order for
Urban Shaman
by C. E. Murphy
Order:  USA  Can
Luna, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Seattle cop Joanne Walker is just returning home after the funeral of her Irish mother. As the plane descends she sees what she believes is a woman in grave peril. Joanne hires a cab and heads to the seedier part of town to investigate. After a short search, Joanne and the cabbie find the woman. She's okay, but spins an incredible tale about being clairvoyant, saying that the man trying to chase her down was the ancient Celtic god, Cernunnos. When Joanne sees and then battles this powerful god, she has little choice but to believe the mysterious woman.

Even more unnerving is the fact Joanne suddenly has the ability to heal herself from life threatening wounds as well as having a mystical tie to a coyote that identifies himself as her spirit guide. Joanne feels as if she's suffering information overload, especially when her dreams transport her to a magical realm where she learns more about her background, her growing powers and her new obligations. But she has little time for a leisurely study of her new abilities. Cernunnos has broken through to perform his 'Wild Hunt', along with a band of mounted spirits and their demon hounds. Previous hunts have been short-lived, but this year the powerful god has discovered a way to remain on the mortal plane indefinitely. Now it's up to Joanne to stop him.

Wisecracking, kick-butt female protagonists continue be all the rage, and it's no different in paranormal romance. If you're on the prowl for another such series to add to your list, you won't go wrong with this one. The author has created a nifty blend of Celtic and Native American mythologies as well as a thoroughly believable and gutsy lead in Joanne. The dialogue is smart and often witty and there's plenty of action. There's also nice interplay (and a tiny nod toward a budding romance) between Joanne and Captain Michael Morrison, who'd like nothing more than to kick her off the force, but holds his temper in check long enough to give her a chance to redeem herself. Urban Shaman is the first book in a new series called The Walker Papers and C. E. Murphy is a fresh and imaginative new voice.

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