Friday, October 23, 2009

Feature Review: "Navajo Courage," By Aimee Thurlo


By Tracy Montoya, RBTB Contributing Editor


While romantic suspense books featuring serial killers probably aren’t going to go away any time soon, I do get the feeling that some readers have grown jaded when it comes to these books. In fact, a friend of mine recently referred to a serial killer plot as a “romantic suspense cliché.”

Given my undying love for romantic suspense, I still enjoy a good serial killer book. But it’s true that for me to luuurrrvve it, the author needs to do something to make this tried-and-true device new again. Which is what makes the husband-and-wife writing team of Aimée Thurlo such a joy to read.

Every book I’ve read by Thurlo puts a unique twist on the romantic suspense sub-genre. "Navajo Courage" is no exception, delivering edge-of-your-seat suspense deeply rooted in the American Southwest and steeped in the Navajo culture.

Someone is killing women in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the county sheriff’s department quickly realizes that the murders have ritualistic elements to them. So they call in Navajo Tribal Officer Luca Nakai, the son of a medicine man and, unbeknownst to them, also a member of the secret Brotherhood of Warriors, an elite force of Navajos which exists to protect “the People” from harm.

Detective Valerie Jonas is assigned to work with Luca, and it doesn’t take him long to confirm her suspicions that the killer is likely Navajo. In fact, all signs—coyote hair on the body, wounds from a blade made of bone, a special poison scattered around the scene—point to the killer's being a skinwalker, or someone who practices Navajo witchcraft.

As Luca and Valeria trail the killer -- who prowls Albuquerque’s shadowy corners wearing a coyote skin -- they find that they’re always two steps behind him.

They also find that the attraction between them is becoming hard to ignore. But they couldn’t be more different; Valerie is Scully to Luca’s Mulder, and she doesn’t know what to make of Luca’s talk of magic and mysticism. And it’s not just their spiritual beliefs that diverge. Luca’s the strong, silent type, prone to moments of such quiet calm that she often rebels by turning into a motormouth around him.

As things get physical, Valerie knows that Luca will go back to the Reservation when the case is over, and there’s no place for her there. She belongs in the city, doing what she does best and what she loves—solving crimes. But the more time passes, the more she knows that Luca will leave a large, blank space in her life when he leaves her. Can she get him to open up to her enough to admit his feelings? And even if he does, can there possibly be a future for them, when they’re from such different worlds?

"Navajo Courage" is the perfect Halloween read, delivering genuine chills wrapped up in a heartwarming romance between two characters who practically jump off the page. If the sigh-worthy guy on the cover grabs your attention, you won’t be disappointed by what’s on the pages when you …

Buy the book.

If you read romantic suspense, do you think the serial killer plot is over? And what favorite scary books or movies are you going to be revisiting this Halloween—if you even like to scare yourself at all?

16 comments:

Princess Bumblebee said...

Hmmm...the serial killer theme is kinda overdone, but hey, it seems to have worked all these years, so...but, this does sound like a little twist on the old story and...what girl couldn't resist the guy on the cover? Hubba Hubba
As for scary movies or anything, I don't do...the best I can do is 'Eagle Eye' which is more suspenseful than actually scary, hehe. And Shia LaBeouf looks darn hot in it, so I won't be too scared, hehe.

amy kennedy said...

The serial killer plot is overdone? That's like saying opposites attracting is overdone -- yes, it's used a lot, but it works, and there's nothing like a serial killer to amp-up the suspense.

I always have room for one more serial killer...

Absolutely fabulous review Tracy, I love the comparison to Scully and Muldar!

Scaring myself is another story -- used to love Scaaaary movies -- not so much now, but I love to dress up for Halloween, now, if only some children would come to our door...

Tracy Montoya said...

Princess, I KNOW about the guy on the cover--yum. I haven't seen Eagle Eye yet, but I do want to. I'm not quite on board with thinking Shia LeBeouf is hot, but that's probably because I'm still bitter about the last Indiana Jones movie and his scene with the monkeys.... ; )

Tracy Montoya said...

Amy, you are a woman after my own heart. : ) I used to love scary movies, too, but with the advent of "torture porn," I only like them if they're lower on the gore, higher on the actual suspense. Princess's "Eagle Eye" rec sounded right up my alley. Loved the first two "Scream" movies, too, because after the always-gory opening scene, it's always about the suspense and not-so-much about grossing people out. The "Scream" screenwriter is the guy behind the new "Vampire Diaries" TV show, which I am LOVING. That's my kind of scary--one wrapped in a nice love triangle....

debbie haupt said...

Hi Tracy, Great article and I can't wait to read Navajo Courage.
Hmmm, the serial killer plot has been done to death, but there are authors who come up with the most diabolical villains ever and the one that comes to mind the most is Lisa Gardner, if you read Say Goodbye for God's sake don't read it by yourself at night because you will NEVER get to sleep. This woman is the scariest chick on the planet when it comes to authoring books starting way back with her first Romantic Suspense called The Perfect Husband and believe me he wasn't.
My Halloween read this year will be a re-visit to The Historian which we are reading for our in-person book club this month.
Deb

amy kennedy said...

Tracy, the last scary movie I saw was the original Final Destination -- saw it with my (at the time) teen-age daughter, we howled through the whole thing. It was hilarious (to us) perhaps not to the other viewers.

"Torture Porn" -- are you talking Saw movies?

Tracy Montoya said...

Debbie, I LOVE Lisa Gardner--The Perfect Husband was so very, very creepy. Karen Rose is another one who does amazing serial killer books. Those two will never be cliche'.

I still haven't read The Historian! I really need to one of these days....

Tracy Montoya said...

Amy, my brother Troy and I did the same thing at Van Helsing. It's always sad when a movie intends to be scary and you laugh at it instead! And yes, the Saw movies are "torture porn." And "Hostel" and other movies of that ilk. I haven't seen any, but Troy told me about them, and that's enough for me, thankyouverymuch.

amy kennedy said...

Oh yeah, Tracy, my girlfriend and I screamed and laughed through Van Helsing as well...but we loved the campiness of it.

Can you imsgine how irritating I am in a theatre?

Tracy Montoya said...

Me, too. Fortunately, my brother and I were the only ones in the theater for Van Helsing, although he's been known to crack up entire audiences with a well-placed comment or two in a bad film!

Becke Davis said...

Tracy - I love serial killer books! Well, I love all kinds of mysteries, and I often wonder what that says about me. After reading these books for decades, I think my mind has been warped - I'm always imagining freaky scenarios.

This book sounds great (and the cover isn't half bad, either!) -- definitely one I'll be reading. Great review, Tracy!

Tracy Montoya said...

Becke, do you write them, too? I think that probably says worse things about one's psyche (says the RS writer). Hope you enjoy the book when you get to it!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Tracy, I'm a fan of romsuspense/serial killer books,too. Even though it may be overdone, I don't think the fascination with it will ever fade. The stakes are soooo high in those books - the ultimate danger, and the need for the h/h to protect the helpless, and each other.

Karen Rose is terrifyingly good, and I think some of Karen Robards earlier serial killer books were good, too.

One of my favorite serial killer suspense books is The Inquisitor, by Gayle Wilson. It's not gory, and you spend very little time in the killer's head, but the h/h are dynamite. It's a very emotional, well-crafted, and suspenseful book.

Navajo Courage sounds great, BTW. I'll look forward to reading it.

Becke Davis said...

Yes, Tracy, I've got a couple of pretty dark stories. I'm not published yet, but I seem to have Jekyll and Hyde personality -- I write lighter contemporary romance and darker romantic suspense. Weird.

Tracy Montoya said...

Vanessa, I love Gayle Wilson--great writer, and a really nice lady, too. I haven't read Karen Robards, but I'm sure I'll rectify that one of these days. : )

Tracy Montoya said...

Becke, I started out writing romantic comedies (unpublished), but then I kept tossing dead bodies in them. It's cool that you can do both!