31 Oct / Shutter by Ramona Emerson [in Booklist]
Emmy-nominated Navajo/Diné filmmaker Ramona Emerson jumps genres with her fiction debut, a chilling mystery starring Rita Todacheene (who just might be getting a bookish series of her own). Charley Flyte, with a similar Native/Indigenous background (Oglala Lakota and Mohawk), empathically ciphers a considerable cast – living and dead – as Emerson deftly weaves tragic multigenerational Indigenous history and culture into her murderous thriller.
Rita sees ghosts, which made her a pariah as a child. She learned to hide her ability (enough); her power, however, undoubtedly enhances her work as a forensic photographer for the Albuquerque Police Department’s Crime Scene Specialist Unit. Rita’s latest assignment involves an especially grisly death, which eventually (and conveniently) is assumed to be suicide. Erma Singleton might be a corpse, but she can still threaten the living: “You’re going to find out who did this to me,” she commands Rita, “or I will make your life a living hell forever.”
Flyte is consistently convincing in multiple roles: Rita, her loving grandmother, kind neighbors, and doubting colleagues, but especially as menacing Erma, desperate for revenge.