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Grandmother Spider: A Charlie Moon Mystery (Charlie Moon Mysteries)

The incomparable mysteries of James D. Doss, featuring the amiable, outsized Ute tribal policeman Charlie Moon and his irascible shaman aunt Daisy Perika, are brilliantly conceived, richly atmospheric puzzles generously sprinkled with humor and Native American mysticism, and teeming with characters as colorful and memorable as any found in contemporary fiction. The enchantment is more potent than ever before in this spellbinding tale of lethal human depravity and a legendary nightmare come alive.

A lawman with a hardy appetite for life and an unshakable faith in the explicable and rational, Charlie Moon has never taken his grumpy aunt Daisy’s visions and premonitions seriously. He is especially skeptical of the old woman‘s stories aboutGrandmother Spider,” a gargantuan avenging arachnid that allegedly rises up out of Navajo Lake in search of human prey. But on April first, in the still, utter darkness of the Colorado night, Daisy and her young ward, Sarah, see something striding across the Canon del Espiritu. And something carries off Tommy Tonompicket and his unlikely drinking companion, research scientist William Pizinski, that same night, after ripping the hood off of Tommy’s truck. And then there’s the mangled, headless corpse lying outside a cabin in the mountains, with two large, fanglike punctures in its chest …

Charlie is not prepared to accept a purely supernatural explanation for the recent occurrences.

This is murder, in Moon‘s opinion, pure if not simple — and by human hands, most probably.

Even Charlie‘s friend, matukach Police Chief Scott Parris-who is more willing than most white men to see the things that hover beyond the edge of this world — does not yet subscribe to the “mythical monster on the loose” theory that the evidence seems to overwhelmingly suggest. For there are just too many loose threads in this twisted web of blood and secrets, too many lies being spun and sticky pasts being protected — and soon another death all of which strongly suggest that the dreaded Kagu-ci Mukwa-pi does not, in fact, exist.

But then again … The most audaciously original and continually surprising of his critically acclaimed novels, Grandmother Spider confirms James D. Doss as a true master of the mystical, the hilarious, and the mysterious.It’s pretty well understood that mysteries come with an implied contract. Authors, for their part, promise to deliver plots and resolutions, however improbable, with some degree of plausibility. Readers, in turn, give an author a 50-50 shot by turning down the gain on their innate disbelief. Then along comes Grandmother Spider and all bets are off.

Southern Ute tribal policeman Charlie Moon has a problem. It seems that, thanks to the imprudent squishing of a wayward spider, the giant spirit Grandmother Spider has risen from her cave below Navajo Lake and exacted revenge on humanity by snatching the research scientist William Pizinski and Tommy Tonompicket, the local carouser with whom he was drinking. Charlie knows this because the squisher was Sarah Frank, the 9-year-old ward of his elderly, shamanic, and altogether elsewhere aunt, Daisy Perika. And Daisy got it straight from a dwarfish spirit called a pitukupf.

The pitukupf half smiled, exposing jagged rows of yellowed teeth. He vigorously stirred the crooked stick in the embers under the apparition, kindling new flames. The dwarf ceremoniously lifted the helical baton like a conductor calling dark chords from an unseen orchestra. The glowing sparks swirled up the column of heated air… and the hideous image of the eight-legged creature followed. As it ascended, the grayish form took on the bright orange hue of the yellow flames beneath it. The apparition grew larger, the entrapped man struggled vainly in hope of release. And screamed piteously for someone to help him.

And that’s not the half of it. Before long, Charlie and his friend, Granite Creek Police Chief Scott Parris, are up to their gun belts in national security issues, mutilated bodies, hideous creatures roaming the countryside snatching sandwiches from the mouths of 80-year-olds, and the bizarre reappearance of the two missing and now-amnesiac tipplers. And, happily, that’s still not the half of it.

Grandmother Spider is Charlie Moon‘s sixth, strangest, and perhaps funniest airing (from 1994’s The Shaman Sings through 1999’s The Night Visitor). With mystery and mysticism enough to satisfy Hillerman’s fans, and humor, memorable characterization, and good writing enough to satisfy everyone else, who’s going to quibble about a silly old contract? — Michael Hudson

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2 Responses

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  1. wendybird "Wendy" says

    Great fun! perfect summer reading 0

  2. Hortensia "Sunshine" says

    gotcha 0

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