Friday, January 28, 2022

Dishonorable Death, Second in Trilogy, by Linda Prather, For Pure Enjoyment, is My Favorite!


Something evil this way comes. 

I shuddered, trembling hands splashing coffee onto my bare legs. Since becoming a detective with the Chicago Police Department, I’d acquired a certain sixth sense, an atmospheric shift that caused my stomach to clench when something bad was about to spring from the shadows. That clench had become a painful knot, and I shrugged it off to nerves and emotions. 
Today also marked the sixth-month anniversary of my twin brother’s murder, and I mentally willed the phone not to ring again. I needed the downtime to submerge myself in self-pity and guilt. The pain was there, still raw and festering. Most of the time, I could shake it off. I didn’t want to shake off the guilt. Since Kyle’s death, I’d fed it daily and pushed myself to the limits of human endurance to solve every murder that crossed my path—especially those with drug connections. Dave had accused me of charging at the enemy with no thought of safety, and he and Greg were beginning to worry that I had a death wish, which, of course, was utter bullshit. 
I raised my cup for a birthday toast. “Happy birthday, Kyle. Maybe if I wasn’t such an anal jerk, I could have saved you, and we’d be celebrating today together.”

I've always been especially interested in both the cultural and spiritual component of Native Americans, having read many fiction and non-fiction books, especially, recently, of those by Manny Monolin Moreno, an Elder. I've been intrigued how their spiritual lives included the natural world around them, as well as their ancestors. Later, evolution occurred as some became involved in life of missionary Christians who came to tell them about Jesus. But I had never heard of any of the ritualistic acts that were included in this book. Kudos to Prather for her excellent research and knowledge sufficient to merge into an exceptionally complex series of murders. Warning: these were necessarily graphic, but not so much so that they could just be seen as clues to consider how and why the deaths happened. Good over evil is always what I'm looking for in such books!

Dave came to stand beside me as I took the envelope, 
lifted the flap, and pulled out the single sheet of paper.
 A body a day keeps the demons away. 
It’s time to dance with the devil, Kacy.

"Most of us have a good and evil side.
Things happen, and sometimes
we just can’t control the evil.”

Retrieving my cell phone, I located the pictures I’d taken of the rock formation and Sicily’s body. “The rock formation appears to be a Native American dream catcher. We’re hoping you can give us some insight on what it means.” I watched closely as he studied the pictures.
Redwine shook his head and passed the phone back to me. “That is not a true dream catcher.” He opened his desk drawer and pulled out a small tear-shaped object. “This is a dream catcher, and each part has a different meaning.
“For reasons we can’t share at the moment, sir, I’m afraid time is not something we have a lot of. If it’s not a dream catcher, what is it? And why do you think our killer used it?” 
“The dream catcher was sometimes referred to as a medicine wheel. Medicine wheels were constructed from stones like the one in your picture. The outer circle represents the circle of life. The spokes are placed in the four directions, which have different meanings to different people. To know why your killer used it would involve looking into the history of both the dream catcher and the medicine wheel. 
Clearly, your killer knows some of the history, as it is believed the dream catcher came from the Ojibwa Chippewa tribe.” 
Dave fidgeted in his seat, pulled out his cell phone, and loaded up the last picture he’d taken. “What about this demon thing? I didn’t think Native Americans believed in demons.” 
“All cultures have their mythical demons, Detective Capello.” Redwine glanced at the picture then sighed. “The most common demon associated with the Ojibwa’s and the Great Lakes Region would be the Baykok. Were there any wounds on the body?”
I shook my head. “None visible, but we’re waiting on the ME’s report.” 
“The Baykok would often paralyze or kill its prey, then devour the liver of its victim, or in some instances, cut an opening in the chest and remove a piece of stomach without disturbing the victim.” 
“Jesus,” Dave blurted out. “Did it eat that too?” 
“I’m afraid I can’t answer that question. What can you tell me about the victim? Baykoks only preyed upon warriors...”

By the second book, Greg Stevens has been promoted to a detective and placed under the tutelage of Team Leader, Kacy, and David. Greg was a quick learner but most of the time he used his computer expertise to gather all data that might be used or complement what is already known. Much of their work is done at a local restaurant, Arlene's, where they get a back table and can go over in private what they've all learned. 

Good thing they were all friends, I thought...I'd early in my career learned not to expect luncheon meetings to be conducive to getting things done. I learned not to get a salad--it takes too long to eat and keeps you chewing... A grilled cheese sandwich seemed to be perfect...But this group chowed down, talking with their mouths full, arguing and laughing, enjoying the fun of working with a good, close team. For me, that choice by the writer, created an image of comradery and a full dose of philia love that grows with mutual respect and sincere feelings of concern for each other. Good thing, too! Because one or the other was targeted within the three books, thankfully to be saved by their partners. 

As the most vocal, and the most aggressive, Kacy, a badass female who has no problems interacting with men, women, criminals, lawyers, and other cops... Of course, several grow to hate in particular in this novel reminded me of many people who I see as two-faced. They smile and agree with you and charm you, letting you think they admire you... Then they cheat and lie about you behind your back.  Thing is, though, Kacy saw through him immediately--kinda like I did with our former president...LOL

Seriously, a cross-mix of Christian and Native American rituals caused the team to get confusing signals. I found I was losing any ability to figure out what was happening, along with the police, as I am usually able to do. When an FBI profiler came in to help, it confirmed and clarified Kacy's conclusions... And she knew who and how to find who was murdering many people in different ways. Kacy finally decided she was going to confront the man... She wore a cross and took holy water with her... I was wishing this scene was expanded a lot more, but time was moving fast and Kacy had gotten the reaction she needed to confirm she was right. 

The ending was both surprising, yet if you read carefully, completely understandable...and satisfying... I learned maybe more than I wanted to learn about ritualistic deaths within religious beliefs. Still, the symbols used, such as white feathers, added to the complexity and depth of the plot. Many Kudos to Linda Prather, with this and the entire Death Trilogy. I recommend you read all three... The buildup from the first novel to last is dramatic and should not be missed, in my opinion!

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