Book Review: Thunderbird Falls by C.E. Murphy

Posted March 7, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Thunderbird Falls by C.E. MurphyThunderbird Falls by C.E. Murphy
Series: Walker Papers #2
Genres: Urban Fantasy
on May 1, 2006
Pages: 408
Format: Paperback
Source: the library

Also in this series: "Easy Pickings"

Pits beat cop and reluctant shaman Joanne Walker (real name Siobhan Walkingstick) against her deadliest foe yet: an ancient serpentine spirit bent on crossing over into modern-day Seattle -- not to order an iced mocha latte from Starbucks but to take over the world!

Just a few months after meeting the Native American trickster god Coyote and grudgingly agreeing to become a shaman -- it was either that or death! -- Walker is still coming to grips with her paranormal abilities. But when she discovers the body of a dead woman in a University of Washington shower room, she's thrust into a potentially apocalyptic adventure that revolves around a good-hearted coven trying to raise a seemingly benevolent spirit from the netherworld. But as the rituals intensify, Walker realizes that the 3,000-year-old entity isn't exactly on a mission of peace.

Also by this author: Walking Dead, Demon Hunts, Winter Moon, "Easy Pickings"

Second in the Walker Papers urban fantasy series and revolving around Joanne Walker, a.k.a., Siobhán Walkingstick. Based in Seattle, it’s been six months since Urban Shaman, 1.

My Take
Even though Murphy uses the oh, no, I don’t really want this power and the if I ignore it, it won’t be true tropes, Murphy brings in enough twist to it that I’m enjoying this. We do finally learn that, yes, Jo is a cop. We finally get the low-down on which role Jo actually plays: she was a mechanic for the cops and events caused her to become a beat cop. Yep, strange but true…

A bit too much on the tell. Per my trope complaints, Murphy spends more time telling us that Jo isn’t studying rather than showing us.

I do like Jo’s take on man modifying the world, that our building a dam is as natural as a beaver building one. That change and invention is in our nature, so it’s not unnatural. Although, some of the lengths to which man will go can be too much!

“To be without question is to be dead.”

Wow, it’s a tough test on choice, of acceptance. It’s also a symphony of stupid. How stupid do you have to be to accept a rattlesnake-turned-into-a-woman as your instructor?? Jo doesn’t think to investigate? Doesn’t do any research on this guy she’s helping? What kind of cop is she that she so blithely accepts what people tell her? She gives the bad guy her name?? That bit on the Enemy was a tough read, it took awhile before I could figure out whose POV I was reading. And I’m still not sure who the Enemy is. For a few pages I thought the thunderbird was the Enemy, then Jo says “can’t be banished unless the Enemy knows to call your name too”, which leaves me totally discombobulated.

Still it’s an interesting premise Murphy incorporates, bringing that bit of believable history into play, the twist she pulls in with bringing the metaphysical alive into our world, and the horrifying betrayals.

“Instead, Petite drove herself over to Gary’s house without bothering to notify me about the change of plans.”

I don’t get it. This ritual the coven wants to do is supposed to be so-all-fired serious, but Murphy writes it like they’re all getting together to play with the Ouija board. They don’t tell Joanne what’s involved with anything, instead they simply spring it on her and expect her to fall in line. WTF?

The romance that seems to be building between Jo and Morrison is on a very slow-build. Must be because no one thinks she has a chance of getting laid… I did like how she maneuvered Morrison into letting her do some investigating on the case. She plays him well.

It’s an interesting twist—I liked the bit about the rain and Gary’s short speech at the end, in spite of the stupid bits. I find myself wondering what Murphy will come up with in Coyote Dreams.

The Story
It’s a symposium on global warming that finds Joanne up too early in the morning. Early enough that she can take the time to “measure” the health of her city. It ain’t good, and it only gets worse when she finds the body in the shower.

Sure, it’s an opportunity to explore the Dead Zone. Maybe find the victim and get her take, fix the disastrous weather and the emotional malaise sweeping Seattle, but Joanne gets a lot more than she bargained for. Including three tasks set by spirit guides. Tasks we could all live by.

The Characters
Officer Joanne Walker, a.k.a., Siobhán Grania MacNamarra Walkingstick, is half-Cherokee and has power, including a power to heal—as long as she imagines the person’s injury or ailment as something wrong with a car, LOL. A brilliant mechanic, she fences, she’s a beat cop, and she’s passionate about Petite, her 1969 restored Mustang. Aidan is the surviving twin whom Jo gave up for adoption. Gary Muldoon, the taxi driver from Urban Shaman, who helped Jo so much, sees her as his daughter. Annie is his deceased wife whom he still misses very much.

Captain Michael Morrison is her boss in the North precinct and willing to suspend belief. He’s seen too much of what Jo can do. Detective Billy Holliday is a cross-dressing friend, colleague, and a true believer. His wife, Melinda (she’s pregnant again), is a witch herself and makes Salma Hayek look like the redhead stepchild. Robert and Clara are the oldest kids with a terrifying, bulging problem; Jacquie and Eric are the younger ones. Nick had been Jo’s supervisor at the garage. Jo’s replacement (Jo calls him “Thor, the Thunder God“) is hesitant. Jen Gonzales works Missing Persons. Ray is a fellow officer.

Cassandra Tucker is a mom, a Mother, and a witch. Shevaun is her daughter; Ruby Tucker is Cassie’s mom. Judy Morningstar becomes Jo’s teacher. Cassie’s best friend, Faye Kirland, works at East Asian Imports and is part of a coven which includes Garth Johannsen (he has a brother, Colin, dying of leukemia), Marcia, the Elder, Roxie, Sam, the Father (a.k.a., Duane), and Thomas. Virrisong will be the thirteenth member of the coven. Nakaytah was his significant other all those centuries ago. Amhuluk is the ancient serpent; Wakinyan is the thunderbird.

Detective Renfroe is in charge of the murder investigation.

Phoebe is her fencing instructor. Coyote, the Native American trickster god, offered Jo a choice back in Urban Shaman and is now her spirit guide. Sara Buchanan was a significant part of her past. Dr. Wood is in charge of Gary’s case. David Crowder is a geologist. Ashley Hampton is the little girl Jo saved; Allison is her mother.

The Cover
I guess the cover makes sense in all its golden glory. It’s Joanne in blue jeans with an Indian buckled-and-beaded belt, a white cropped tank top and filmy shirt, a thunderbird pendant dangling from her neck, and a pair of beaded cuff-like bracelets, standing on a wooden bridge, which sports its own thunderbird graffiti.

The title is both geographic and metaphor as Jo discovers her spirit animal even as Seattle gains Thunderbird Falls.

Reviewed by Kathy Davie, who is fast gaining followers in Goodreads and Amazon for her honest book reviews. Passionate about reading, writing, and editing, she searches the Internet for tips, tricks, and warnings with a keen interest in ideas that will foster reading in children as well as adults while aiding writers in their craft. Kathy blogs daily at KD Did It Takes on Books.

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