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Blackening Song (Ella Clah, #1)
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Blackening Song (Ella Clah #1)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  474 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Blackening Song is the debut of Navajo FBI agent Ella Clah, who returns to the reservation to investigate the murder of her father, a minister. The ritual nature of the killing makes Ella's brother, a medicine man, the prime suspect. Without cooperation from the tribe, the FBI, or the local police, Ella must plumb the depths of the struggle between traditionalist and moder ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 9th 2001 by Forge Books (first published 1995)
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While I respect Tony Hillerman, his perspective had been that of an observer. The Ella Clah series feels like a participant viewpoint. We are on the reservation. We are experiencing the family life of Ella Clah. We discover her history in this novel and how her family incorporates different approaches to living as a Native American in contemporary society. The events in Blackening Song change Ella's life and have tremendous dramatic impact.
Good start to a mystery series. What caught my eye was the picture on the spine of another Ella Clah mystery when I was at my local library. After reading the blurb about the series on the inside cover I knew I must read the entire series. The storyline was good and Ella Clah was interesting for a cop type mystery series (all the others I have read (Craig Johnson, Kathy Reichs, Sandi Ault, Nevada Barr), don't really seem to focus on the main character's heritage. Although to be fair, the other s ...more
Ella Clah is a young FBI agent, having left the Navajo Reservation for college and law enforcement. She receives a phone call that her father has been ritually murdered. When she returns home she learns that in the eyes of the FBI, her brother is the chief suspect. Ella disobeys direct orders to seek the truth and learn of her father's murder. This is a complex, action packed mystery that puts the traditional Navajo ways against the progressive. Mysticism, intuition and custom fight with Ella as ...more
I read the latest one (#17) and now the first in the series. I find the principal character, Ella, compelling and interesting but the story goes on too long. You just want it to end. I'll have to read more to see if we can have a plot without skinwalkers.
Sep 07, 2013 Lisa rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: mystery
Full disclosure: I only got to the beginning of Chapter 4. And usually I don't review books I can't finish. If I don't like a book after the first 10-20%, then I don't finish it, but I don't normally write a review because on some level I don't think that's fair to the author(s).

BUT in the case of Blackening Song I am making an exception. I had read some good reviews from a mystery group and I love Tony Hillerman books, so I was looking forward to reading this book. And the first chapter was pr
Gaye Vaterlaus
In the spirit of Tony Hillerman, Ella Clah, is a Navajo FBI agent who returns to her home, the Navajo reservation in New Mexico, to find the killer of her father. Steeped in Indian legend, customs and lore, Ella defends her family and her looks for a peace she never knew she was missing. I enjoyed this first book in a series that Hillerman himself recommended when it was first published. It was a great read.
Michael A
there is too much bad magic in this story - just like so many other series set with the southwest indian reservations. the characters are the same as other books with little appeal to me. the fbi is again incompetent and so on and so on. this is a series I will try one more to see if it gets better. I do not expect it to.
Michael  Starsheen
A good first entry in this series

I gave this book five stars because it is a great read. I enjoyed the suspense and the interplay of the characters and the Navajo culture. I recommend this book for a great time.
Mary Havlovic
Ella Clah, Navajo who left the reservation to become an FBI agent and now returns to try and unofficially solve her father's murder. Her brother becomes a suspect in his death and Ella must prove his innocence. During the process of solving her father's murder, she also becomes the target of the killer. Ella begins to discover alot about herself and why she left the reservation. These skills also helped her hunt down her father's killer. Suspensefully, good read.
Fredrick Danysh
FBI agent Ella Clah goes back to the Navajo reservation after preacher father is killed and mutilated. Her brother is the prime suspect of the law enforcement investigating the case. She does not fit in because she had left the reservation after her marriage to a Navajo Army ranger. Complicating the case are Navajo witches called skinwalkers and an FBI agent who alienates Anglos and Navajo alike. This sets the foundation for a series about Ella Clah
Sherri Vigil
When Ella finds herself back on the reservation from serving as a law enforcement officer in California. Her struggle to re-enter her Native American world yet maintain her skills and responsibilities in law enforcement is captivating. Her mother is a spicy delightful character. Her brother the shaman. The old and new working to solve and stop the violence. This is the first book I read on the Ella series and have enjoyed the whole series.
BLACKENING SONG (Pol. Proc-Ella Clah-New Mexico-Cont) - NR
Thurlo, David and Aimee - 1st in series

From Fantastic Fiction: Ella Clah, a tough Navajo FBI agent, must combine modern investigative techniques with traditional Native American mystical beliefs to solve a murder on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico.

It started out well, bogged down in the middle and I was completely bored by the end. Shan't read another.
Very enjoyable book. Having grown up next to the Navajo rez in Northern Arizona, I have always been fascinated by Navajo myths and beliefs. I'm also a big fan of mystery/thrillers. This combines both in a fast-paced format and is reminiscent of the Tony Hillerman novels except that the hero (heroine) is a female FBI agent, Ella Clah. Good enough for me to want to read the next in the series.
Cyn Mcdonald
Reading this series again from the beginning.
Ella Clah is an FBI agent called home to the Navajo reservation when her father is murdered in a ritualistic manner and her brother is accused of committing the murder. I picked up the book since I recently visited the area. I was unimpressed with the writing style, which felt overly simplistic, and had trouble connecting with the mystical/magical realism aspects of the story.
Pretty good...a more mystical take on the same land very familiar from Tony Hillerman's books. This is the second book I've read in the series, but it's actually the first book written in the series. It's a little more mystical and a little rougher than the third book, which I read earlier this week. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for the rest of the books in this series.
Well, now I'm just going to have to read the whole series (14 of them as of now). Perfect summer reading, plus I get to learn a few things about the Navajo. I like the main character, a strong and intuitive female. It's hard to find these books in stores around here. I wonder if they're easier to find in New Mexico.
Steven Howes
This is another series of mystery books focusing on the Navajo Reservation. While not the best book I have read, it was entertaining and contained much information about Navajo cultural beliefs along with the main plot line. Since this was the first book of a 15 or 16 book series, I think I will try the next two or three books before I buy all the rest.
This is the first book I've read written by Aimee and David Thurlo, but it won't be my last. Excellent mystery set on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. FBI agent Ella Clah returns to the rez on leave after her father has been murdered and undertakes her own investigation. The twists and turns of the plot kept me guessing right to the end.
Melissa Blanchard
Well written story with a strong woman dedicated to doing what is right. Good opening that hooks the reader from the beginning. Suspenseful to the very end. Also enjoyed Ella finding her place among her Navajo family. I recommend this story to all who enjoy reading.
As a fan of Tony Hillerman, I loved this book and cannot wait to read more of them.
I have now read the entire Ella Clah series by the Thurlos and I really enjoy them all. The style is similar to Tony Hillerman but has more Navajo culture discussed in the books. I recommend them all.
A little lighter in many ways compared to Tony Hillerman, these books are still worth a read for anyone interested in Native American customs and how that meshes with crime investigation.
Bj Hoover
Just re read the first Ella Clah book in the series, and know why I immidiately became a Thurlo Fan back in the day. I look forward to continuing to read the whole series over again.
Navajo mystery with Ella Clah returned from LA and her job in the FBI to solve the death of her father. This is the first book in the seies and I am ready to start the second.
Catherine Woodman
I love Ella Clah, altho' it wouldn't be bad for her to get a love interest that lasted at some point--she is a great Native American and the mysteries are very good
Good read for Tony Hillerman fans who need new material. The Ella Clah character is not always as I would craft her, but she stands by her principles.
Melissa Rockenfield
Great story with medicore writing. I kept wanting more description, reflection, foreshadowing -- depth of any kind! very disappointed.
First in a series about a Navajo FBI agent that returns to her reservation.
Great introduction to that culture, and good storytelling.
A little different than Hillerman, not as avid a picture of the land, more in depth of the people.
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Aimee and David Thurlo are the authors of the Ella Clah mysteries, the Sister Agatha mysteries, the Lee Nez vampire novels all set in New Mexico. David grew up on the Navajo Indian Nation, and Aimee, a native of Cuba, lived in the southwest for forty years.

Aimée passed away peacefully at her home on the morning of February 28, 2014, after a brief struggle with cancer and related complications. She
More about Aimée Thurlo...

Other Books in the Series

Ella Clah (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • Death Walker (Ella Clah, #2)
  • Bad Medicine (Ella Clah, #3)
  • Enemy Way (Ella Clah, #4)
  • Shooting Chant (Ella Clah, #5)
  • Red Mesa (Ella Clah, #6)
  • Changing Woman (Ella Clah, #7)
  • Tracking Bear (Ella Clah, #8)
  • Wind Spirit (Ella Clah, #9)
  • White Thunder (Ella Clah, #10)
  • Mourning Dove (Ella Clah, #11)
Bad Medicine (Ella Clah, #3) Death Walker (Ella Clah, #2) Red Mesa (Ella Clah, #6) Enemy Way (Ella Clah, #4) Bad Faith (Sister Agatha, #1)

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