The Cowboy's Baby Surprise.

Shadow Force

Shadow Watch

Shadow Warrior
by Linda Conrad
(SRS # 1465, $4,99) ISBN 0-373-27535-9
Shadow Warrior is the fifth novel in the "Night Guardian" series. Set on the Navaho Reservation, it is a classic story of good versus evil. The Warriors are a brotherhood of good men drawn from all clans on the reservations and the bad guys are Skinwalkers, who are shape shifters specializing in evil.

Michael Ayze is an anthropology professor who is one of the ringleaders in the Warriors. He has taken a leave of absence because he is searching for ancient documents, which will provide a critical map, necessary for total victor over the Skinwalkers. His belief is that instead of some type of parchment that the message has been preserved in pictographs or something similar.

His brother's widow Lexie has run out of financial resources. In desperation, she called Dan's mother Louise who quickly invited Lexie and her small son Jack to come live with them until she got on her feet. Michael was the only family member to attend the wedding and has subsequently kept his distance as he had been smitten by his brother's bride at first meeting.

On the last leg of the trip Lexie is caught in a flash flood and rescued by Michael. He takes them to his mother's house and they surprisingly are made to feel exceedingly welcome, although Dan's parents had refused to attend the Las Vegas wedding, and Lexie had never met them.

A shape shifter appears to frighten her, and Lexie slips and lets Michael know her deepest secret. Like her mother she sees ghosts, or as she put it, she has the ability to be a medium working through these ghosts for messages from the other side.

A ghost advises her that she will be a "message bearer," foreshadowing the fact that she will be instrumental in helping Michael in his search for the critical map. Word of these abilities gets out; clearly through the mystical forces of the evil shape shifters, and the people on the reservation label Lexie as a witch and want her out. To combat this, Michael searches for a medicine man that can perform a sing to exorcise the problem.

This novel requires total suspension of disbelief, but the reward for so doing is the exposure to many Navaho traditions and beliefs. The characters are ongoing, so there is little definition of the Navaho good guys from prior novels, although time is devoted to Lexie and her young son Jack. The time the author spends describing settings adds as well to the story.

The expected happens and Michael's attraction to Lexie is soon reciprocated. The plot circles for awhile and suddenly quickly rushes to conclusion, leaving room however for readers anxiously awaiting the next story.

--Thea Davis

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