Paperback, Kindle, page count: 181
September, 2013, Price: $10.76, $4.99
Reviewer’s name: Patricia K. Batta
Ghost hunting tourists stumble on a dead body in a house reputed to be haunted. Deputy Tempe Crabtree, first on the scene, is sensitive to spirits and finds herself bombarded with them as soon as she enters the house. Spirits don’t kill people the way this young man was murdered, though, and the detective in charge assigns Tempe to find out who the very human murderer is.
Tempe’s attention is split between solving this case and resurrecting two cold cases in order to release the spirits she has encountered so they can pass on. Her superior detective, not understanding the plight of the trapped spirits, refuses to help with the cold cases since all those involved are long dead. Tempe forges ahead on both fronts, helped by her husband, Hutch, a local pastor. Hutch reluctantly accepts that Tempe can communicate with the spirit world, but he worries and fears for her physical and spiritual safety when she does so. They both know that, along with the spirits who need closure to pass on, there are demons who threaten both the living and the dead.
Once the murder victim is identified, Tempe is stonewalled by both staff and students at the high school he attended. Not only were the students he had been running around with lying to her, they were openly taunting her. And a young woman claiming to know something clammed up every time Tempe was close to finding out what it was.
While trying to figure that out, Tempe is also drawn to several small graves in back of the haunted house, the vision of a young girl in a corner of the house, and stories about the murder of a woman in the house many years ago. On top of it all, rumors of satanic activity seem to be increasing.
The author has an understanding of the Native American culture, the festering wounds, and the still-active discrimination. The book is matter-of-fact about these issues, acknowledging them but not allowing them to take over the story. She is remarkably even-handed in dealing with the spirit world issues from both the Native American and the Christian perspectives.
The ending was satisfyingly bone-chilling even for me, a person who doesn’t usually read paranormal stories.