Indian Health Services psychologist Ben Pecos and his eleven-year-old son are enjoying a summer vacation to Ben’s New Mexico pueblo ancestral home when Ben is called back to duty, this time on the Navajo reservation. It’s the year of the global pandemic and the Navajo Nation is under particular threat, especially when supplies ordered by the tribe are being stolen before they ever reach the reservation. Trucks have been hijacked and one driver killed.
On their way, Ben and Zac are caught in a huge sandstorm, known to the Native people as ghost dust. Ben slows their vehicle and Zac has an almost supernatural experience. A pronghorn antelope appears beside his window, meeting his gaze and keeping pace with the pickup truck in the gritty, driving sand. Then it vanishes.
As Ben works to coordinate relief efforts for the tribe and find out what has happened to their missing medical supplies, Zac meets a new friend, a boy who tells him about Skinwalkers. These humans who can take animal form and make evil things happen represent the darker side of tribal culture. Zac remembers the antelope—did it have kindly intentions, as he imagined, or was it a Skinwalker?
As the days pass, the virus isn’t the only danger in the Navajo community—a delivery driver is beaten, and an unexplained murder hits the family of Zac’s new friend. Ben’s wife Julie joins in the effort, only to have her own life threatened as well. Ben has his hands full on all sides, and the twists don’t let up until the final pages of this heart-pounding thriller.
Praise for Susan Slater and the Ben Pecos series:
“This is a wonderful book with loveable heroes.” – Library Journal, (on The Pumpkin Seed Massacre)
“Susan Slater’s Thunderbird is a witty, absorbing tale.” —Publishers Weekly
“Slater effectively combines an appealing mix of new and existing characters … dry humor; crackling suspense; and a surprise ending.” —Booklist
“… a gripping novel. We mystery lovers hope it’s the first of many.” – Tony Hillerman
“A solid, suspenseful narrative and colorful glimpses of Native American life strongly recommend this …” – Library Journal (on Thunderbird)
“… Ben Pecos—raised far from New Mexico’s Tewa Pueblo—could become as lasting a fictional presence as Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee.” – Chicago Tribune