Never-Ending-Snake is the fifteenth of sixteen Ella Clah mystery novels written by the duo of Aimee and David Thurlo. It, like the preceding ones, is largely set in Shiprock, New Mexico, and life and politics on the Navajo reservation there play a major role in the plot of this novel, especially when it comes to the shady doings of a Navajo casino and its manager, Alan Grady. Reading about the interrelationships among the various tribal factions and the Navajos who call themselves Traditionalists is almost as interesting as reading about how Ella solves the case in this mystery/thriller.
As Never-Ending-Snake opens, Navajo Special Investigator Ella Clah is returning from Washington, DC, where she was offered a better paying job with a private security firm. She is traveling with attorney Kevin Tolino (her former boyfriend and the father of her daughter, Dawn), and an Afghanistan veteran (considered by the tribe to be a hero) and Navajo lobbyist, Adam Lonewolf. Lonewolf is also the bodyguard for Tolino, but he is unarmed when the plane they’re traveling in lands and is attacked by men who jump out of a white van and open fire on them. Adam is seriously injured, but Kevin and Ella receive relatively minor injuries. Who was the intended victim, and why? Who was behind the attack? Those are the questions that Ella must discover the answers to in this page-turning addition to the Clah series.
Also, Ellah is stunned to learn that the Navajo lobbyist had $75,000 stashed away in a sealed Monopoly game he’d said he’d bought for a relative. Clah wonders if perhaps Adam Lonewolf is not all he seems to be. Was the money a bribe? Was Adam given the money legitimately? Is this why the men attacked, to get the money, or because Lonewolf had been targeted by the casino manager? Or, did the men know about the money at all, and were they actually after Tolino, Clah, or the pilot of the plane, and was Adam just unfortunate enough to have been wounded the most gravely? Unfortunately, as Lonewolf was shot in the head and is barely hanging on to life, Ella and Chief Big Ed Atcitty can’t ask him why he was carrying so much money with him.
Ella even theorizes that the attack might be linked to an alternative fuel project being planned on the tribal lands. It’s been discovered that Prickly Weed, or tumbleweeds, can be used as an alternative energy source to fuel cars. It can easily be grown on tribal lands, and if the project takes off, many Navajos could find employment and the entire tribe would benefit. But, does this plan interfere with Alan Grady’s schemes in some way? The development of an alternative energy source adds another interesting dimension to the novel’s engrossing plot.
Who was the intended victim? Who had the greatest motive? Figuring these questions out is a challenge to Ellah Clah, and reading about how she does it makes for another fantastic novel from the very talented duo of Aimee and David Thurlo. It’s a book that fans of the Ellah Clah series should love, and Never-Ending-Snake is also a novel that can stand on its own and be enjoyed by anyone who is new to the series. If you love reading mysteries set in the West, Never- Ending-Snake is a book you’ll want to add to your reading lists today!