The Spirit Woman
According to legend, Sacajawea—the Native American woman who helped guide the Lewis and Clark expedition through the American wilderness—is buried on the Wind River Reservation. Now, a college professor—and longtime friend of Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden—has disappeared while seeking the truth behind the legend.
Vicky and Father John O’Malley soon discover that her missing friend is linked to another female historian who also vanished on the reservation—while researching Sacajawea twenty years ago. The answer to the mystery of the missing scholars may lie in the pages of Sacajawea’s hidden memoirs—and with a culprit who will do anything to ensure they’re never found…
Now that Jesuit Father John O'Malley has just been reassigned from the Wyoming reservation he's called home for the last eight years, his undeclared love affair with Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden seems finally over in the sixth installment in this well-regarded series. Besides, Vicky's back with ex-husband Ben, an abusive alcoholic who says he's changed. Then Vicky receives a visit from old friend Laura Simmons, a historian who's convinced that the memoirs of 19th-century Shoshone heroine Sacajawea are stashed somewhere on the reservation. Years before, another female historian disappeared while searching for those memoirs, and within days of her arrival Laura is missing, too. Possibly Laura's disappearance has something to do with the arrival of her abusive boyfriend, but as Vicky and Father John investigate, they become convinced that someone on the reservation has come between Laura and the memoirs--if they exist. Coel stretches to form links between the "fragile" past and the shifting present, as Vicky realizes that she, Laura and various secondary characters are all daughters of Sacajawea--battered women struggling to survive their battering men. It's an arresting theme, but overstated here, as the male characters are almost uniformly controlling, alcoholic, philandering failures who insist in falsettos that their victims understand their "rage." Readers will be engrossed in the expertly crafted suspense, but may wonder how much longer the passion between Father John and Vicky can smolder. 6-city author tour.