Monday, April 6, 2009

C.E. Murphy: Trilogies are her thing

I lucked out at the library last week when I found not just one but three C. E. Murphy novels. I didn’t realize she wrote in trilogy when I first picked up Winter Moon. The book flowed and I didn’t miss anything by picking up the middle book. In fact, I think I liked Urban Shaman, (the first book in Walker Papers), more because I already knew Joanne, Gary, Billy and Morrison.
While “Urban Shaman” is in the paranormal genre I really consider it to be more of a classic hardboiled detective novel. The bad guy might be a demon, or a demi-god but doing the leg work and getting caught on a red herring make for a great, keep me guessing and turning the page who dunnit. The main character is Joanne Walker, aka, Shiobahn Walkingstick. She is born of a fling between an Irish woman and American Indian man. Her mother abandons her to be raised by her rambling father. She has always had an afinity with cars and after college realizes becoming a mechanic is really the dream job for her . She gets a job fixing cop cars with the police department. The only catch to the job is she must go to the police academy so her supervisor can show ethnic diversity on the force by having a Native American on the books. Her mother appears in her life again with a summons to Ireland because she is dying. It is upon her return from the Green Isle when she sees a young woman fleeing “The Hunt” from the airplane descending to land that her life takes a crazy, creepy and most definitely celtic twist. There is a lot in this story and the characters in it. It makes total sense that three books were needed to tell it.
I like the side kick characters a lot as well. Gary is my favorite. There is more to meet the eye with this aging mountain sized taxi driver. A guy just doesn’t know how to beat a mystical meditation drumbeat on the first try without being pretty special. Billy Holiday, (not related), becomes her partner because his own background of seeing dead people makes him more open to Joanne’s emerging abilities. Morrison is the semi-good looking Captain and new supervisor that makes Joanne assume her cop duties, not mechanical, when she returns from the mourning the death of her mother. I really appreciate Ms. Murphy’s touch of attraction between the two without acting on it or detracting from the main theme of the story. Finally, there is the talking coyote, who reminds us coyote’s are not dogs. He is Joanne’s spirit guide. Sometimes he turns into an American Indian but mostly he delivers his enigmatic and cryptic assistance in canine form. He has a dry wit for a coyote. Ok, I have never talked personally to a coyote or a spirit guide for that matter but this guy had me chuckling. The other two installments in the Walker Papers are: "Winter Moon "and "Thunder Falls".

I then moved onto “Hands of Flame” but put it down less than 50 pages in because unlike the Walker Papers, the Negotiator Series can’t be read out of sequence. This is the 3rd installment in the series and I didn’t get all the connections and I really needed the backstory to understand. I am intrigued though of the relationship between Magrit, the human lawyer and her gargoyle lover, Alban. (I keep thinking of Goliath from the Gargoyles cartoon series.) This is a temporary DNF because I will be getting the first and second installments , “Heart of Stone” and “House of Cards”. I will keep you posted on them.

The third of her books is, thankfully, the first book in the Inheritor Series called “The Queens Bastard”. I haven’t started it yet but I am curious to see how this very modern Urban Fantasy writer applies her talents to historical stories. I have to say, I think this is the first writer I have met that has started in the present or future and moved to historical. Anyone think of someone else who has done that?

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