Wolf Catcher by Anne Montgomery
A Reading Ireland Month book
Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars
“Gardening is not about growing food, but about growing children.”
A reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician and discovers that black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
In 1939, archaeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate beadwork, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine-hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archaeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
Boy, didn’t this one grip me quickly and keep me glued to the pages! I absolutely love reading fiction tales about the ancient history of our own beautiful United States—this one in the spectacular geographical area known as Arizona. Probably better known for searing summer desert heat, the state boasts a multitude of topographical diversity.
Flagstaff, north of Phoenix, is high desert at almost 7,000 feet, a little over eighteen miles from Ridge Ruin. When I was still riding my motorcycle, the girls and I rode to Prescott—and then a short ride to pricey but gorgeous Sedona, the artsy community not far from Flagstaff that features red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls, and inexplicably deep pine forests. Sedona (twenty-nine miles from Flagstaff) is unique and heart-poundingly stunning. While there, I’d recommend a visit to the (active Catholic) Chapel of the Holy Cross built into the red rocks that offer dramatic views.
So I was deeply and thoroughly embroiled in this imaginative novel that split the storyline in dual narratives: The current one and that of the eleventh century capturing a native people written so creatively, you’d swear it was taken from the pages of a diary.
Kate Butler is a freelancer working on an article regarding the discovery in 1939 of a tomb near Ridge Ruin where a man buried nine hundred years previously was obviously a magician and sacred member of the tribe populating the ridge. But was he of the tribe? If not, where did he come from? And here’s where it turns fascinating—enter the world of Kaya, Wolf Catcher, Deer Runner, Badger, and the white wolf, Spirit Warrior.
The Arizona high desert landscape in the tenth, eleventh century was changed by the active volcanoes of the area forcing tribes to abandon their villages and seek fresh game, water, and arable conditions. Some peoples were peacefully assimilated; some not so peacefully ventured to take by force the attractive conditions offered by distant communities.
Kaya, accepted to her village as a child, is a healer, but still not wholly one of them and keeps herself separate. Her skills, however, are unquestioned having learned from her mother. I loved her character and that of the support characters of the village. Their stories, their lives, come to life and breathe their circumstances to reality in the mind. Their experience as the storyline hurtles to conclusion is gripping.
The novel melds seamlessly much of fact with fiction. I love it when I’m moved to research the veracity of places like Ridge Ruin. Although to be accurate here, the author discloses her own discoveries when she was commissioned to write a feature article about The Magician by the Arizona Highways Magazine, and I must say managed to incorporate a complex tale here combining the tribal experience possibilities into an unputdownable account that includes a crushingly plausible antagonist bent on stealing artifacts.
“Our priority was the guys with guns, not the ones with shovels.”
Loved the cliff-hanging chapter endings. Well researched, well-plotted and paced, a historical mystery that raises still more questions about the migrations and origins of peoples and artifacts found in unlikely places.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts. Trust me, you’ll love it. Totally recommended and out now!
Genre: Native American Literature, US Historical Fiction
Publisher: TouchPoint Press
Print Length: 382 pages
Publication Date: February 2, 2022
Source: Author inquiry
The Author: Anne Butler Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, and amateur sports official. Her first TV job came at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, and led to positions at WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter. She finished her on‐camera broadcasting career with a two‐year stint as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery was a freelance and/or staff reporter for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces. Her novels include The Castle, The Scent of Rain, A Light in the Desert, and Wild Horses on the Salt, Montgomery taught high school journalism for 20 years and was an amateur sports official for four decades, a time during which she called baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball games and served as a high school football referee and crew chief. Montgomery is a foster mom to three sons. When she can, she indulges in her passions: rock collecting, musical theater, scuba diving, and playing her guitar.
Find Anne Montgomery on her website: https://annemontgomerywriter.com/
NB: Ms. Montgomery states she has “red hair and freckles” and is American of Irish descent.
©2022 V Williams
Cathedral attribute: Red Rock Realty