Book Reviews

Review Rating

With the October 2004 review, we began rating the books on the basis of one to four trowels; 
one trowel= don’t bother, to four trowels= run right out to your local book store and buy the hard cover!

Back to all reviews

Bone Walker by Kathleen O’Neal Gear; W. Michael Gear

Reviewed on: February 1, 2022


Tor Books:  New York
2001 (PB)

The final entry in the Gears’ “Anasazi Mystery” series is every bit as mesmerizing as the first two in the trilogy—The Visitant and The Summoning God.  It incorporates the ethnography of the Ancestral Pueblo People—their customs, practices and cosmology—into a fascinating and at times disturbing contemporary murder mystery.

More than seven hundred years before the present, the ancient shaman-like Stone Ghost, along with his nephew, the Warrior Chief Browser, and the Warrior Catkin struggle to protect the remnants of the Katsinas’ People as the combination of environmental degradation and endemic warfare among and between the clans of the indigenous peoples of the Four Corners area of the Southwest—modern day Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.  While a remnant of the Katsinas’ People, led by Matron Cloudblower, aspire to rebuild the Great Kiva—and underground chamber—of the First People to save the struggling clan, Stone Ghost, Browser and Catkin form a small war party to seek out and destroy the evil and deranged—and mortally wounded--witch, Two Hearts, along with his protective cadre of warriors, the White Moccasins.  From his death bed in hiding, Two Hearts connives to escape retribution by directing his twin daughters, Shadow and Obsidian, and his granddaughter, Bone Walker, to foil Browser’s war party.  More importantly, he believes he must extract the heart of a young, virile individual—Browser? Obsidian? Bone Walker? —in order to revive his failing existence.  Stone Ghost and Browser believe that, only by destroying the malevolent Two Hearts can there be any hope of bringing peace to the warring clans and in a united effort, address the challenge of a desiccated homeland.

Seven hundred years later, as archaeologist William “Dusty” Stewart is wrapping up his field report on the Pueblo Animas dig (as related in The Summoning God) and his sometimes reluctant collaborator physical anthropologist Maureen Cole is preparing to return home to Ontario, they learn that Dusty’s adoptive father and near-legendary archaeologist Dale Emerson Robertson has been found brutally—and ritualistically—murdered at the ruins of Casa Rinconada in northwestern New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon.  He was the victim of witchcraft-- buried head down in ruin’s kiva, the soles of his feet skinned to prevent him from walking to the Land of the Dead.  While the FBI is brought in to investigate the savage crime, Dusty, along with National Park Service Ranger Magpie (Maggie) Walking Hawk and even the science-based Maureen Cole, come to believe the answer to the crime lies in the convergence of ancient evil and present-day human passions.  When Carter Hawsworth, anthropologist and student of indigenous witchcraft and prime suspect in the killing of Dale Robertson, is himself found murdered in the same ritualistic fashion as Dale, the mystery deepens and the question re-surfaces:  Can an ancient evil from seven hundred years ago manifest itself in the 21st Century?

Four trowels for the concluding volume of this superb trilogy!