Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Urban Shaman" by C. E. Murphy

This has been showing up on my Amazon recommended list for a while and now I know why; it bears striking resemblances to several of the other series I've been reading for the last few years. The good news it's also a good book for a debut novel.

Joanne Walker is a mechanic for the Seattle Police, a job that suits her just fine. As the story starts, she's been in Ireland for the last four months meeting and trying to get to know her mother, a woman who turned her over to her father at an extremely early age. Jo is the product of a one-night stand between her mother and her father, a Native American. Turns out she'll find out later on that she wasn't quite as much of an accident as she thought. Her real name is Siobhan Walkingstick, and she's about to find out that she's a shaman.

Of course, anytime your perception of reality is challenged, there's bound to be action and conflict galore. Jo's tale is no different, and most of the book deals with her coming to terms with her power and her destiny. It's a lot to take in, both for the characters and for the reader, but the story moves at a fairly good pace. We also have the requisite sidekick, Gary, a cab driver who picks up his most unusual fare and pretty much gets sucked into Jo's world. I like Gary a lot, and look forward to seeing him in other books.

The only thing that felt a bit off was the support of her fellow officers. Yes, Jo is also an officer, having graduated from the police academy early on. It looked too good on paper to have her not be certified; a female minority is quite the coup for the department. Anyway, late in the book most of her co-workers come together to help her, which was great, but I wasn't so sure I believed in the situation. Maybe I'm just a bit jaded, but people don't usually offer up help that quickly, especially not where such "weird" stuff is concerned.

Overall, I give it a good review and recommend it. I've got the second book in my bag, ready to start, so we'll see if Murphy's writing gets better as she goes.

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