The Raven’s Daughter

Book Cover: The Raven's Daughter

When a charismatic Algonquian killer shows up in the remote mountain town of Wicklow, CA, he turns peaceful Wild River County upside down and inside out. One time criminologist, and Wicklow resident, Maggie Tall Bear Sloan, (50% Yurok, 50% Irish, and 100% gutsy) joins forces with county sheriff and long-time friend, Jake Lubbuck, to track down the murderer. Maggie’s twin nieces live in Wicklow and match the killer’s victim profile exactly. She’ll do whatever it takes to protect them and the people of her home town. Maggie has recurring dreams of turning into a green-eyed raven the local tribal people believe exists, and she just might be a “pukkukwerek,” the shapeshifter monster killer of Yurok legend. As she pursues the killer, who may be possessed by the Manitou demon, Maggie begins to accept her true nature as she learns not all things are as they seem, and discovers that some myths are true.

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Canada, Twenty-Eight Years Ago

Three weeks before his sixth birthday, the boy tasted his first human heart. It happened during an elk hunting trip with his father, Noshi, his mother, Chepi, and his twin brother, Sheshebens.

“Uncle Sokamon says the Elk are plentiful on the back side of the La Cloche,” Noshi said.

The family packed, Noshi grabbed his rifle, and off they went. The day before, a freak storm, “the worst of the season,” the weatherman said, dumped another meter of snow over the already blanketed peaks. But today the sun was blinding orange and the sky, hyacinth blue. The boy shielded his eyes with one hand and squinted at the glinting snow. …

Northern California, Present Time

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An unkindness of ravens, knocking and cawing, settled into the branches of a gray pine. Maggie squinted at them through the morning glare of the sun, and reached into her coat pocket. “You gluttonous, winged pigs.” She withdrew her hand and tossed corn onto the dirt. No matter where Margaret Tall-Bear Sloan was, ravens were certain to be nearby. She always carried corn.

The phone rang. She dropped the kernels remaining in her palm, and sprinted into her cottage. “Hello?”

“I’ve got bad news,” said Jake Lubbock, Wicklow’s sheriff.

“Don’t tell me. More kids?”

“Six-year-old girls. The O’Malley twins.”

“Dammit. God dammit.”

“You still thinking about joining the reserves? Your certification is current, and you still have your license to carry. Right? I can expedite this.”

Silence.

“Maggie, listen to me. We sure could use your help. Two sets of twins in less than eight months.

No clues. We can’t get a handle on this.”

“You know after what happened in Oakland, I don’t deal with child killers. I’m sorry, but I have to say no.”

“Can we meet for lunch and talk? At least hear me out.”

“What time? I’ve got an appointment this morning. I can be in town around one if that’s not too late.”

“One it is,” Jake said. “And…Maggie?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks.”

“Don’t thank me. I’m not getting involved. This is only lunch, and you’re buying.”

“Whatever you say. See you at The Dandelion.”

She slicked back a few stray hairs. Not bad for an old broad. With her bare foot, she stroked Samantha, her blue point Siamese rescue cat with a crooked tail and an attitude. The slinky feline leapt onto the table and butted Maggie’s hand in a bid for additional petting.

For 46, Maggie figured she’d held up pretty good, her complexion wrinkle-free except tiny crows’ feet at the corners of her eyes when she smiled, which was seldom. Maggie had Yurok features from her mother’s side, toasted butter skin and Native hair, glossy stuff of legends she plaited into a thick salt-and-pepper braid that fell to her waist. Her lime green eyes that turned dark olive when she became angry, which was often, she owed to her Northern Irish father.

She pulled on her favorite T-shirt, the one that read, “I’m half white but can’t prove it,” kicked off fuzzy pink slippers, yanked on her Dan Post boots, and left with her dog following close behind. “See ya later, Samantha. Keep the mice away while we’re gone.”

She opened the door to her ‘54 cherry red Chevy pickup. “C’mon, Chester.” The old bloodhound leapt into the passenger’s seat. As Maggie headed toward town, a raucous cry broke the mid-day stillness. She glanced in her rearview mirror. “Yup, ravens following us, Chester. What a big surprise, eh boy?”

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Debra A Burke on Amazon wrote:

OK...when is the movie coming out? This story sucked me in from the "get-go", and lord what a story it is. It is 3 am, I just finished the book and now I can't go to sleep! The characters, the subject matter, the intense finale...all floating around in my head. I was thoroughly captivated. Way to write a book Peggy A. Wheeler....I loved it. Well done!!

F. Wittmann on Amazon wrote:

The Raven’s Daughter by Peggy A. Wheeler is a thoroughly enjoyable read! Despite the gruesome murders at the center, this story was a joyride to read. I lived for many years in a small town in Northern California, not unlike the book’s town of Wicklow. My town was peopled with all manner of friendly, eccentric, neighborly people. The characters in this book are as well, but are believably fresh and original! The plot thickens at a brisk pace; the writing is crisp; the landscape is lush. I look forward to this writer’s next book - she’s good!

Paul Dale Anderson on Amazon wrote:

The Raven’s Daughter by Peggy A. Wheeler (Dragon Moon Press, February 2016) is a wonderfully well-written first novel. Maggie Tall Bear Sloan, half-Irish and half-Native American, is a retired big-city detective and profiler who has made her share of bad mistakes. She’s always too close to the action to see the forest for the trees. Plus, Maggie’s taste in men is atrocious. How could anyone as smart as Maggie act so dumb?

Maggie has spent most of her life favoring her father’s Gaelic ancestry over her mother’s American Indian. Maggie listens to Irish music, drinks in an Irish pub, studies Gaelic, and hangs around with white folk. She rarely sees her twin brother, Danny Tall Bear Sloan, who celebrates his Native-American heritage. If not for Flower and Bird, her twin grand-nieces, Maggie would have nothing to do with that side of the family.

When twin children are abducted, murdered, their hearts cut out, and ritually buried near Maggie’s A-frame home in rural Wicklow, California, Wild River County Sheriff Jake Lubbock asks Maggie to come out of retirement to help catch the serial killer. At first, Maggie refuses. But Jake is persistent. When Maggie thinks her nieces will become the killer’s next target, she agrees to help solve the case.

Although The Raven’s Daughter isn’t perfect (it is, after all, a first novel), it is a page-turner that’s hard to put down. The twist at the end is something I didn’t see coming because of all the red-herrings. Maggie’s character is multi-layered and full of angst. But there are a handful of typos that an editor or the author should correct, and a few loose ends that could have been avoided. I hope the author will write a sequel that will explain the supernatural elements in more detail.

I loved reading The Raven’s Daughter. I think you will love it, too.


 
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