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The Death of Bernadette Lefthand

Publishers Weekly

Querry, a Choctaw, chooses Arizona, his present home, as the setting for this excellent first novel. It is a landscape peopled by Natives, where Navajo, Apache and Hopi reservations jostle up against one another, literally and figuratively. The book deals with the murder of its eponymous heroine. In the process it becomes a fine vignette of modern Indian existence, giving readers a genuinely felt view of the pow-wows, dances, rodeos, alcoholism, intertribal rivalry and poverty that are the facts of life for many Native Americans. At the beginning of the novel, Bernadette is found dead and her drunken husband, Anderson George, has disappeared. The story of their tumultuous union is told in flashback from the points of view of Gracie, Bernadette's sister, and Starr Stubbs, a white woman who knew her but may have been less than a friend. With his compelling storytelling, Querry leads the reader methodically and inexorably back in time (to witness the final moments of Bernadette's short life) and deeper into the darkness of the witchcraft that destroys both her and Anderson. The innocence of Gracie's youth and her anguish in relating her sister's life story work like a magnet to pull the tale along.

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