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White Shell Woman (Charlie Moon Series #7)

White Shell Woman (Charlie Moon Series #7)

4.6 19
by James D. Doss

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The two sandstone monoliths towering over the southern Colorado landscape are wrapped in ancient mystery. To the local tribes, they are the Twin War Gods, sons of the moon goddess, White Shell Woman. Legends tell of strange happenings in their shadows, of lost treasure and Anasazi blood sacrifice. But it is a much more recent history that troubles former Ute


The two sandstone monoliths towering over the southern Colorado landscape are wrapped in ancient mystery. To the local tribes, they are the Twin War Gods, sons of the moon goddess, White Shell Woman. Legends tell of strange happenings in their shadows, of lost treasure and Anasazi blood sacrifice. But it is a much more recent history that troubles former Ute policeman-turned-rancher Charlie Moon, specifically the fresh corpse of a young Native American woman unearthed at an archaeological dig.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Early in Doss's seventh book (after 2001's Grandmother Spider) about former Ute policeman turned cattle rancher Charlie Moon, Charlie's old Aunt Daisy a tribal shaman and all-around tough cookie is being bored to tears by an equally elderly Navajo man who recounts a long story about the origins of two Southern Colorado landmarks, Chimney Rock and Companion Rock. "Daisy was familiar with the myths. The tales varied, depending on whether a Zuni, Hopi, Apache, or Navajo was doing the telling... Daisy groaned inwardly. Like most old men, this one liked to tell stories she had no particular interest in hearing." Sadly, many readers will be forced to agree with Daisy: despite Doss's deep knowledge of the environment and of Native American patterns of speech and thought, this may be one book too many about clashes between ancient and modern customs leading to loss of life. We've tramped over this ground before with Doss himself, with Tony Hillerman, with Margaret Coel and all the other literary anthropologists who created this new genre. Moon is still as tall and as charming to women as ever; his aunt's crusty exterior still covers genuine affection and a shrewd mind; but this tale of Anasazi ruins, of feuding academics, of grave robbery and murders to cover it up, carries a mythic familiarity that's hard to shake off or make interesting. (Jan. 1) Forecast: With Grandmother Spider, one of the weaker titles in the series, Doss's net sales went up 50% which suggests the mystery public's appetite for Native-American sleuths is far from sated. That Doss takes a light approach helps set him apart from the pack. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Ute tribal investigator Charlie Moon (Grandmother Spider) visits some Anasazi ruins, which his shaman aunt says are cursed by fire. When two burned bodies are discovered, he almost believes her. With his aunt's gifts and help from his friend the police chief, Moon finds a killer. Great stuff; for Tony Hillerman fans. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
To underwrite the cost of a herd of Holsteins, Ute tribal policeman-turned-rancher Charlie Moon hires on as a private investigator looking into special projects for the reservation-a job that puts him on Ghost Wolf Mesa when a little Zuni girl finds an ancient petroglyph. Prof. Axton and Dr. Perkins, rival experts, differ over its meaning, and archaeologist Amanda Silk disagrees with them both, insisting the pictogram, apparently of anasazi vintage, is a recent fake. Still, somebody believes it holds the secret to ancient treasure, and after whip-smart student April Tavishuts explores it one midnight, she's dead by morning-and the young Ute's Navajo stepfather, Alvah Yazzi, appears to be a case of spontaneous human combustion. Meanwhile, Charlie's aunt Daisy is once more communing with her favorite pitukupf in the Canyon of the Spirits, leaving him hero-size sandwiches and a thermos full of coffee, then secretly scurrying over to Charlie's ranch for unfathomable reasons. FBI agents George and Stanley, along with Charlie's best pal, white cop Scott Parris, are busy going in circles while Daisy utters dire predictions, four-legged critters pop up everywhere, and Charlie is knocked senseless. When he comes to, there's been another death, his sometime girlfriend has ditched him, the petroglyph's secrets are revealed-and his Holsteins have arrived.
Orlando Sentinel
“Doss mixes mysticism and murder with his own unmistakable touch.”
Chicago Tribune
“Readers will find themselves propelled by fast-paced action and intriguing characters.”
Dallas Morning News
“Suspenseful and satisfying.”
Denver Post
“Doss does for the Utes what Tony Hillerman has done for the Navajo.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Charlie Moon Series , #7
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Read an Excerpt


The baby was the White Bead Baby . . . and her cradle is called natsi'lid eta cote, the rainbow cut short.
-- Sandoval, Hastin Tlo'tsi hee
The Twins

The Ute horseman had seen their stern faces in all seasons. Whether bathed in blazing sunshine or veiled in a lace of softly falling snow, they were always the same. Massive. Silent. Awaiting the End of Days.

On this day, Julius Santos had taken no notice of the towering sandstone monoliths. The rider was blissfully beguiled by those sweet things a spring morning brings. On the mossy stream bank, startled willows trembling with excitement at the arrival of an unexpected breeze. A flood of melted snow crystals rippling over an avenue strewn with slippery cobblestones. The crisp whisper of a magpie's wing, a startled darting of rainbow-dappled fishes. He was distracted by these pleasures.

Any thought of trouble was far from him.

But the giants were infinitely patient. Relentlessly, they pulled at the corner of his eye.

Finally -- unable to resist -- Julius Santos turned his face toward Companion and Chimney Rocks. Separated by a three-hundred-yard gap, the towering brothers seemed isolated in stony loneliness. But it was all a matter of how one looked at them. The Ute knew of a special place -- a unique, elevated point of view. From the Crag, it was possible to see the Twin War Gods as the ancients had seen them - standing near enough to exchange whispers.

On horseback, the sacred overlook was barely an hour away. It would be necessary to cross GhostWolf Mesa, a knobby formation dotted with kiva and pit-house ruins. A dozen winters had passed since he had venturednear that silent, sinister place where old bones moldered under lichen-encrusted rubble. But there was no other way to approach the Crag. A narrow, precipitous causeway of crumbling sandstone connected the mesa rim to that upraised, wedge-shaped platform where the Old Ones had built a splendid temple to honor the Goddess of the Moon.

During his last visit, Santos had stood on the very tip of the stone triangle, contemplating the gigantic sons of White Shell Woman. While he'd stared at the Twins, something outlandish had happened. He had found himself leaning heavily on one leg . . . then the other -- as if a trillion tons of sandstone pitched and swayed under his feet. The tartled pilgrim had been overwhelmed by the illusion that he was on the deck of an enormous, storm-tossed ship. It seemed the illusory vessel was under full sail, toward some dark, alien harbor.

But that had been years ago. He sat in the saddle, squinting at the distant mesa -- that dark, haunted space that must be crossed to approach the sacred platform. In the Ute's lurid imagination, the lumpy sandstone formation was a massive hand reaching up from Lower World -- with all fingers folded except one. That long, crooked digit pointed suggestively toward the Twins. And on this morning, it beckoned to the lone horseman.

To ward off this enticement, Santos closed his eyes. In doing so, he encountered the inner darkness. And looked too deeply. The old vision enveloped him.

He is on the Crag, standing on the very tip of the soaring bow. Santos gazes over interlocked waves of space and time. A splendid illusion grips his mind. Just ahead -- separated by the merest slice of sky -- the towering giants stand shoulder to shoulder, knee-deep in petrified talusdunes. They are anchored to the depths of a ghostly sea, waiting fortheir mother's pale face to appear between them. These are the slayers of monsters. Ready to take on sinew and muscle over bones of stone. And -- as in the Beginning of Days -- slay those unspeakable monstersthat feed on human flesh.Santos's peculiar fantasy was interrupted by a sudden stamping of the horse's hoof; a heavy shudder rippled through the animal's frame. The rider took a deep breath, and turned his face away from the Twins. He assured himself that the vision was nothing to be concerned about. It was a mental deception -- a mystical mirage. The Ute turned his mount south. Toward home. This was a sensible decision. But . . .

The giants whispered their urgent summons.

You are needed.

Today you are needed.

The long finger beckoned.


Come quickly.

Santos pretended not to hear the call. But he turned his horse toward the mesa.

Though he was not a traditional Ute, Julius Santos did accept those particular elements of his culture that he considered helpful. This included sage advice on maintaining mental balance. And so -- to the extent that he was able -- he did not think bad thoughts. Not that a healthy man could possibly submerge his soul in gloom on such a fine day as this. The breeze was crisp as a new dollar bill and refreshingly cool against his face, the morning sun a warm smile on his back. He had a good horse between his knees. Moreover, he was feeling uncommonly young for his years. The moderately vain fellow considered himself a fine figure of a man. And believing so, he was. Santos was long and lean; his spine straight as a young aspen. He sat easily in the saddle -- a fluid, graceful rider who seemed grafted to his mount.

Having ascended to the crest of the mesa, his spirit was likewise lifted. This was not really a bad place. There were purple and yellow blossoms blooming in splashes of sunlight; patches of melting snow hiding in the shadows of fragrant juniper. The rider directed his mount to the rim of the sandstone cliff. Snuffy was a steady beast who would step over a prairie rattler without so much as a shudder. She approached the edge of the precipice.

Santos inhaled a deep breath of sage-tinted sweetness. It seemed that a man could see to the very edges of the earth. The Ute slitted his eyes, so the grand vision would not be absorbed too quickly. The endless space and deep silence engulfed and nourished his soul.White Shell Woman. Copyright © by James Doss. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

James D. Doss, recently retired from the technical staff of Los Alamos National Laboratory, now spends most of his time in a small cabin above Taos -- writing mystery fiction. He also travels to the fascinating locations where his stories take place, often camping in remote areas to absorb the impression of an Anasazi ruin, a deep canyon, an arid mesa, or a Sun Dance. His Shaman series includes The Shaman Sings, The Shaman Laughs, The Shaman's Bones, The Shaman's Game, The Night Visitor, and Grandmother Spider. The unusual plots are a mix of high technology and mysticism (Shaman Sings), bizarre animal mutilations (Shaman Laughs), theft of a sacred artifact (Shaman's Bones), an unprecedented form of murder and revenge at the Sun Dance (Shaman's Game), a most peculiar haunting followed by the discovery of an astonishing fossil (Night Visitor), and -- because a small girl has killed a spider without performing the prescribed ritual -- the appearance of a monstrous, murderous, eight-legged creature on the reservation (Grandmother Spider, of course!).

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White Shell Woman (Charlie Moon Series #7) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Doss does for the Utes as Tony Hillerman does for the Navajos in writing thrilling reservation mysteries. His anchor character, Charlie Moon has an awesome Shaman aunt, Daisy, who is up in years and both funny and acrimonious at once. Many of these stories have a background in Native American mysticism, but everything gets put into the current reality by now ex-Ute Policeman, Charlie Moon. Loved it and stayed up almost all night to get to the conclusion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nebula she is in Fox heart result three
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The name of the Moon brings the history and culture of different Native American tribes' history to life. I recommend all of the Charlie Moon novels. Everyone has a cranky, tied to the past aunt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love James Doss's books. There's enough common thread running though each but each one is completely different .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hewwo peoples!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey. This is my house and it has been for the past 6 years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh my Gosh i know how u feel. Im 13 and God is my life. This helped me realize that what i do is for Gof. Thanks, Jake AMDG
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really what? ~J
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kk. After u decide i gotta go tho. Track meet tomorrow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gtg to bed.goodnight
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thats why i said he must be sure. I will never make the mistake of not again. ~ Clover
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Get out of my cove now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoy Mr. Doss's books and his characters. I thought this one was the best of the series, in addition to fascinating looks into the Native American culture, I also like the humor that Mr. Doss injects into the story. I look forward to more books from him.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The shared mythos centers on the Anasazi priests sacrificing innocent lives in hopes of gaining favor from the WHITE SHELL WOMAN (moon) and her twin chidlren (Colorado rock formations). Now a millennium later, a Zuni girl discovers what is apparently an ancient petroglyph that leaves the experts totally divided on what the find means. Not long afterward, an archeologist dies at the treasure site. Ute Shaman Daisy Perika believes the modern world has once again stepped where it does not belong and knows more ill is to come from stomping on the ancient secrets. Still, needing capital for his herd of cattle, her nephew former Ute policeman rancher Charlie Moon ignores her dire warning and begins to investigate the murder and the archeological treasure. He does not yet realize the danger he faces from what seems a spiritual source as his aunt describes, but may actually prove mundane and deadly.

The latest war between heritage and modernization, WHITE SHELL WOMAN, is an exciting entry due to the charming cast (including curmudgeon Daisy) that retains a freshness about them. The story line is filled with Native American mythos and offers the typical collision between two worlds that culminate in mayhem and murder. Fans of the sub-genre will relish James D. Doss¿ latest encounter, but though well written and perceptive the plot lose some of its luster as it contains a déjà vu feel to it.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
+a smokin hot sexxi guy swaggers in wearing a monster energy drink sweatshirt and dark blue jeans with green and black Osirises. He has a six pack and is extremely muscular with blue eyes and golden blonde hair. He has a dimpoe in his left cheeck when he smiles. He is single ;) hp((warning: he recently drank a lot of water 0-0))+