The Drowning Man
An absorbing new mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Eye of the Wolf.
When an ancient petroglyph is stolen from the remote Red Cliff Canyon adjacent to the Wind River Reservation, Father John O'Malley is drawn into the dark underbelly of the illegal market for Indian artifacts.
The Arapahos call the stolen petroglyph "The Drowning Man" because of its haunting image of a human figure struggling under water. A priceless artifact to the tribe, the sacred object is worth a quarter of a million dollars to the thieves who took it.
After receiving the ransom demand, Father John is determined to uncover the identity of the culprits and recover the petroglyph. The theft is nearly identical to an unsolved, seven-year-old case involving another stolen petroglyph and the murder of one of the thieves. Attorney Vicky Holden joins Father John to piece together the events of the past seven years. Along the way, they uncover a deep, dangerous conspiracy running through the reservation determined to loot the sacred objects and threatening anyone, including Vicky and Father John, who gets in the way.
The Drowning Man is Margaret's twelfth mystery in the Wind River series. As in the previous novels, you can expect an engrossing plotline and a masterful grasp of the history and culture of the Arapahos.
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Berkley Hardcover, September 2007, ISBN: 978-0425217641
"At the start of bestseller Coel's appealing 12th mystery, the people of Wyoming's Wind River Reservation are devastated when an ancient petroglyph, the Drowning Man, vanishes from a wall of sacred Red Cliff Canyon. An Indian messenger tells Fr. John O'Malley, the pastor of St. Francis Mission, to inform the Shoshones and Arapahos they must pay a $250,000 ransom for the rock art, which was chiseled off the wall. Father John obliges, but also alerts the FBI. Meanwhile, attorney Vicky Holden decides to represent Travis Birdsong, who's serving time for killing his alleged partner in a glyph theft seven years earlier. Enraged locals, who believe Travis didn't get a fair trial, want Vicky's firm to concentrate on keeping a logging company from desecrating Red Cliff Canyon. Father John's conflicted feelings for Vicky, who's not sure she wants to stay with her partner, Adam Lone Eagle, and the arrival of a retired priest at the mission help keep the emotional temperature high."
"Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden and her clerical friend investigate artifact theft and murder near the Wind River reservation. Father John O'Malley becomes involved in the hunt for the recently stolen sacred petroglyph known as "The Drowning Man" when a mysterious Indian stops him on the road and offers to return the glyph to the tribes for $250,000. At the same time, Amos Walking Bear, grandfather of Travis Birdsong, asks Vicky to reopen the case that sent Travis to prison. Travis was convicted of manslaughter in the killing of his friend when they supposedly fell out over money after stealing a glyph almost identical to The Drowning Man, a glyph that was never recovered. Although both the Tribal Council and Vicky's partner and lover Adam Lone Eagle want her to drop the case, Vicky thinks Travis was wrongly convicted and refuses to quit even after she's almost killed. It's clear that the old crime and the new one are connected. Soon enough, the FBI becomes involved in one of the many cases of stolen Native American artifacts under investigation all over the West. But it isn't until Vicky convinces Travis to come clean and Father John puts his life on the line by acting as an intermediary that the criminal masterminds are finally brought to justice. Coel blends her usual thoughtful depiction of life on the reservation with a solid mystery."
"Coel's narrative unwinds via Vicky and Father John's pursuit of separate but complementary lines of investigation that eventually coalesce, sweetened by their delicate and poignant relationship. As usual, Coel's sure grasp of character, impeccable understanding of the subject, and nimble plotting make this novel a pleasure to read. In addition, her cautionary tale speaks eloquently for eternal vigilance as a nation's cultural treasures steadily vanish from our landscape."
Elizabeth Foxwell, Mystery Scene Magazine (read the full review)
"This is the twelfth novel in this series, and it's a real standout. The author manages to weave in historical details about petroglyphs, current information about the black market in ancient artifacts, environmental discussions... all without losing track of the characters and central mystery. The characters are quite complex, having had many books to develop, and the new characters seem just as sharp. The mystery is involving and will delight new and longtime fans alike. A new Margaret Coel mystery is always a happy find. This one is no exception."
Deborah Hern, CA Reviews (read the full review)
"This novel is up to the high standards of the earlier entries in this series, with a tight plot and excellent writing and descriptions. It moves ahead with suspense and is entirely enjoyable. Recommended."
Theodore Feit, Midwest Book Review
"Margaret Coel's books are thoughtful examinations of the problems for the tribes in today's world, as well as the examination of two troubled people, Father John and Vicky. In all of her books, including The Drowning Man, she presents flawed people fighting to preserve and build a better life. Coel's books can be read for the tribal history, the mysteries surrounding the tribal life, or the ongoing stories of Father John and Vicky. They are compelling books, telling an important story. No matter why a reader seeks them out, they'll come away with a greater appreciation of the value of the past and vanishing cultures."
Lesa Holstine, Lesa's Book Critiques
"Tension is the mark of a good mystery novel. This book is remarkable in that it has more tension than a politician has promises. Coel uses the tensions of everyday events on the reservation to craft a believable and inviting chapter in the lives of her protagonists.... To thievery, add murder, harassment, danger and cruelty to the mix and you can see why it has been said Coel is up there alongside Tony Hillerman as a superb writer and historian of modern day Indian life."
Pat Elliott, BookLoons
"Ms. Coel takes [her] fascinating characters and mixes them with a story that grabbed me from the opening pages and held me until I turned the last page...I couldn't go to sleep until I knew how the book ended..."
Kay Martinez, DorothyL
"I really love this series on many levels. Coel manages to shed light on some very serious issues, in this case the rampant theft of Indian artifacts, the government's lack of concern for the destruction of public and Indian lands to serve business interests, and pedophilia in the priesthood, without being preachy or heavy-handed. Her characters are three-dimensional, her description of the setting is vivid, the plot is complex ... there's a lot to like."
Shirley Wetzel, OverMyDeadBody.com
"This mystery is very well written and plotted, with characters who are constantly forced to change and grow. The vivid details of Arapaho life on the reservation really takes the reader to another world. Definitely recommended."
Beverly DeWeese, Deadly Pleasures
"Margaret Coel has set up lots of personal challenges for Father John and Vicky in the latest entry is this wonderful series...excellent, highly recommended."
Debby Bogenschutz, DorothyL