Reviewed: August 26, 2009
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Walker Papers, Book 2
Rating: 3 Stars
Length: 408 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Joanne Walker, aka Siobhan Walkingstick, is back in the second installment of The Walker Papers. Unfortunately, the force of her personality and the awesome cast of secondary characters introduced in Urban Shaman (The Walker Papers, Book 1) and back in this installment isn't quite enough to put Thunderbird Falls on my "must not be missed" list.
There's good stuff here, most significantly the growing emotional tension between Joanne and Captain Michael Morrison. I swear, I just love every second they're in each others' company. There's real magic sparking between the two of them and it's very patiently and subtly drawn. I adore Gary - and there's a comforting sense of continuity in the faux-familial bond between them. It's nice to see two characters who genuinely adore one another like they do and not have it be in any way romantic. Billy Holliday is back, too, and while not quite as out there as he was in the first book, he's definitely one of the most joyously unique characters I've read in a book in a long time. And I love Joanne's internal monologue. She's sarcastic and self-deprecating and her observations often make me chuckle.
What I don't love, though, is that despite the impressive goings on in Urban Shaman and all the challenges Joanne Walker triumphs over there, she seems to have not only stagnated in her shamanic development, she's actually regressed and is back to that annoying "oh no, I don't want to be Shaman" whining. It doesn't stop her from using her abilities, it just makes every time she does turn into a paragraph about why she doesn't want to. That got old in the first book. To have it carry over into this one after everything she accomplished previously is tedious. I think there may have been some progress in that regard by the end of Thunderbird Falls, but I'm not sure how much.
Then there's the central plot. Joanne stumbles across a dead body and ends up mixed up in coven with dubious motives and questionable sanity. She loses Coyote in there somewhere, and I have no idea why or how. She sure doesn't seem at all bothered by it, despite the fact that there are things going on around her that point to the fact that her fight against Cerrunos in Urban Shaman threw things severely out of whack in the astral realm and it's bleeding over into this one (or vice versa...not totally clear on that) and she's not got the first clue how to fix it. Seattle is sweltering and drought stricken, nature is out of balance, and it looks like it might be all Joanne's fault. And nothing in any of that is anywhere near as compelling or dangerous as anything in Urban Shaman. Until the last quarter of the book, in fact, there's nothing even alluding to daunting, then the last quarter was a mishmash of big reveals and final showdowns that weren't very clearly written. Not to mention that by that point I can't say I cared that much about it, however it concluded.
I'm going to give Coyote Dreams (The Walker Papers, Book 3) a try because the parts I did like in this book I liked very, very much. I still think C.E. Murphy has a unique gift for writing secondary and ancillary characters, and I truly like Joanne when she's not going the "poor me" route. Plus, I've just got to see what develops between her and Morrison. I just hope for a cleaner, less meandering, tauter plot.
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