Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snake Dreams by James D. Doss: A Charlie Moon Mystery

Book 13 of the Charlie Moon series and I have read all of them up to and including this one. Waiting for me in my bookcase is #14 The Widows Revenge, and on my Wish List is #15, A Dead Man's Tale. Obviously I am a fan of James Doss and a fan of Charlie Moon. What is not to like? A 7 ft tall lean good-looking Ute cowboy, retired cop and now part-time tribal investigator. He has a wonderful ranch in a beautiful location, every girl falls for him but he just can't seem to hang onto them. Of course this is often because of Aunt Daisy's machinations.

His Aunt Daisy Perika, of ancient age, is a blessing and a curse, trouble with a capital T, yet often helpful in solving cases. Sly as a fox, she is a shaman, a crabby one at that. Daisy talks to spirits, not that she invites them, they come to her with messages and portents and try as she might, she can't ignore them. After all, they know where to find her anytime, anywhere. She also visits and talks to a pitukupf, a dwarf who lives in an abandoned badger hole, bringing him food and tobacco in exchange for cryptic answers to the spirits' problems which are now her problems. He also brings news of evil coming, if she can decipher what he is saying in time.

In Doss's earlier books, there was much more police action, mysteries, missing people, murder and such playing a rather major role, along with the great descriptions you can count on. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona some of the most beautiful and extreme landscape in the country. Those readers of Tony Hillerman's series of the Navajo tribal police, especially Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, will understand what I mean. I expected similar when I started reading James Doss' books, and in fact there were a lot of similarities in the early books, although with Daisy there was a lot more myth, legend, because of her heritage, but there was still a lot of policing and investigation.

The Charlie Moon series has always been great fun to read, but in the latest books, possibly because Charlie is supposed to be on his ranch, not solving crimes like his best friend Scott Parrish, chief of police for Granite City, the focus has been much more on the characters themselves with a mystery running in the background. As mentioned, the books have always had some humor in the storyline, but the past few have been nothing short of hilarious, which leaves me to wonder if this series has done a crossover genre. I laughed out loud through a lot of this book Even the style of writing seems to be different and very unique, but again, very funny.

The characters are true to themselves, and it's been fascinating to see them continue to grow and even to age, something that is often missed in a series. Who would be my favorite character? It's hard to answer that, so many diversities, but I think my personal favorite is Daisy, without her half the book would be missing. She is now tutoring her young protégé, 16 year old Sarah, in healing, magic and other shamanist knowledge. This is still one of my favorite series and great for a break between more serious books. Highly entertaining.

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