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by Marilyn Meredith

Golden Eagle Press, September 2001
ISBN: 1-89-194003-1

Reviewed by Karen Meek

DEADLY OMEN introduces Tempe Crabtree a part Native American deputy in a small town in the Californian mountains. Tempe moved back there with her son after the death of her husband. After a long widowhood, Tempe has recently married the local pastor, Hutch.

Because of Tempe's heritage she is assigned to cover a locally held Pow Wow, a day of dancing and festivities which is to culminate in the announcement of the winner of the Princess competition. The favourite to win is Marella, daughter of Violet Celso, one of the leading lights in the Indian community.

When Marella disappears before the Pow Wow Princess winner is announced, her anxious parents call on Tempe to find her, unfortunately she does, shot dead. There are many suspects including Marella's boyfriend, a would be boyfriend, a Princess rival's mother, and a bigoted land owner who also happens to be the murder weapon's owner.

Though not officially on the case, Tempe carries out her own investigation. She becomes obsessed with finding the killer even to the extent of putting a strain on her relationship with Hutch and to ultimately putting her own life in danger.

I enjoyed DEADLY OMEN very much. The straightforward writing makes it easy to read and the story is a fine who-dunnit. In addition, the reader is informed but never overloaded with information about Yanduchi Indian culture. The characters and setting are very real, even if Hutch is perhaps a little quick to complain about his wife's preoccupation. Tempe is someone you'd like to know. The second book, UNEQUALLY YOKED is out now, with the third, INTERVENTION due in the autumn.

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