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The Spirit Woman (Wind River Reservation, #6)
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The Spirit Woman (Wind River Reservation #6)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,197 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
According to legend, Sacajaweathe Native American woman who helped guide the Lewis and Clark expedition through the American wildernessis buried on the Wind River Reservation. Now, a college professorand longtime friend of Arapaho attorney Vicky Holdenhas disappeared while seeking the truth behind the legend.Vicky and Father John O’Malley soon discover that her missing ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 1st 2001 by Berkley (first published 2000)
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Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
I enjoyed this book. It is a book about violence towards women - domestic violence. It is a book about wanting to believe, refusing to accept the facts (even when they're staring you in the face) whether it's for the love of a man or a love for history. Also, it's about the need to belong somewhere, about wanting to hold the broken pieces together even as they crumble in your hands. Even for the men, it's about losing yourself in drink, desperation and turning to violence in order to subdue (or ...more
Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In this novel, Sacajawea is said to have lived a long life. She is buried on the Wind River reservation where Fr. John O'Malley pastors his flock for the Catholic Arapaho people. A rumor has circulated in the area for years that Sacajawea told her life story to a an Indian Agent's wife in the 1880s. The written record was destroyed in a fire. When Fr. John's lawyer friend, Vicky Holden, learns from her old friend and history professor, Laura, that Sacajawea's story survived the fire, things star ...more
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-audio-books
Interesting plot based both on native American history and the modern life on the reservation; well-developed and engaging characters. I would have given this book 5 stars if not the unrealistic timing problem. Somehow in this series often everything happens at once, and this book is a perfect example (a bit of a spoiler next): Father John's dog has to discover the body of a woman who dissapeared twenty years ago practically on the same day that another woman arrives to the area to continue the ...more
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've read all the Wind River series up to now, and chose this one to review because of the issue of abused women. Coel's handling of this sensitive issue is accurate and should touch many who have not understood how abuse affects women. That she uses her talents as a historian to tell the story of Sacajawea from the Indian perspective is a very valuable thing for all of us to consider. Her characters are so real that I feel like I have come to know them and would recognize them on the street, es ...more
Oct 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: mystery, native american
Recommended to June by: Cheryl
Shelves: native-american
This one got a little heavy for me with all the abuse. The back and forth of whether wife beaters can change was wierd and confusing. I did find the idea of the "will to believe" was interesting. The climactic scence of Vicky and Father John was a bit much for me too. However, I have ordered the next in the series.
As with her earlier books, this combines fiction with some historical background. In and among the murder mystery, though, this one has a lot more emphasis on domestic abuse than some of the earlier ones in the series.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I have really enjoyed these books. A fascinating culture to be a part of....I wish there was a bit more of that and of Vicki's relationship to her ancestry. I know little of the Arapahoe people (but in fairness, I know a lot about the PNW First Nations, so not a complete indigenous ignoramus!) and would love to know more. Perhaps these books will be the impetus. Father John is a lovely portrayal of a very real priest. Struggling with his desires for love, for temptations, I also really enjoy the ...more
Wanda Hargrove
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Laura Simmons a historian comes to the reservation to finish the definitive biography on Sacajewea which was started twenty years earlier by another historian who disappeared. Vicky Holden is a friend of Laura's and introduces her to fellow historian and pastor Father John O'Malley. They discover that sometimes some things should never be discovered after Father John's dog Walks-On-Three-Legs finds the skeleton of a woman not far from St. Francis mission that was buried twenty years earlier. The ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
This is the 6th book in Ms. Coel's Wind River Reservation series. So far, it's my favorite. If you like/love Tony Hillerman, you're going to love this series. Her main characters are Fr. John O'Malley, priest, reformed alcoholic & Vicki Holden, native Arapahoe, lawyer, formerly in an abusive marriage are such fully rendered characters that you will immediately love them. I'm a firm believer in starting with the first book and moving forward from there. The story lines are well developed and ...more
Stephanie Tanton
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
this mystery set on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, centers of the lost memoirs of Sacajawea. The death of a history professor twenty years earlier in mysterious circumstances, is brought to life with the arrival of another historian in search of the same Sacajawea quest.
Father John and lawyer Vicky Holden are again immersed in solving this mystery when the second historian goes missing.

These characters and the setting among the Arapaho is a favorite series.
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Not my favorite in the series.
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
She was my hero when I was a kid. I never followed up on the interest as an adult, but this was fascinating!
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
the audiobook was not narrated well
Dotti Van Pelt
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting mystery

Enjoyed the indigenous people culture aspects of the story along with the real life struggles of the characters in general. Couldn't put it down.
Kitty Blanchard
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. Mystery with american indian history thrown in. I like when a book takes me somewhere i know nothing about.
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
It seems like sometimes the most compelling mystery fiction is that in which the protagonist is not a law-enforcement official, but an amateur sleuth. Though I imagine that this interest goes back quite some time, I would also guess that we probably owe this to the fiction writers of the 19th and 20th centuries, including such literary heavyweights as Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and G. K. Chesterton.

The formula is fairly standard. Take a character that conceivably has nothing at a
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good read in this excellent series. These books are well-written and realistic. This story delves into the rumors about when and where Sacajawea actully died. Two white, female historians have come to the reservation looking for answers. I found the info about Sacajawea to be interesting. Of course the big draw of these books is the complex relationship between Arapaho lawyer Vicky Holden and Father John the resident priest. The author handles this in a realistic and respectful way. I hi ...more
Nov 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Father John and Vicki Holden are on a dangerous path, getting more and more entangled in each other's emotional lives, and they both know it. They both react differently to the realization, however, thus continuing the tension.

They are, however, forced into the usual role of working to figure out what happened to Sacajawea's memoirs, which historians have long discounted. The "official" record says that they were destroyed in a fire, but a Denver history professor (and friend of Vicki's) has jus
Jul 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Another good mystery involving Father John O'Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicki Holden. The setting is the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. This involves the mystery of what happened to Sacajaweea, what happened after she left the Lewis and Clark expedition, and where is she really buried.
Twenty years ago a young female historian was investigating the above mystery and she diappeared. Father O'Malley's dog, Walks on Three Legs, unearths a skeleton. Is this the lady that went missing so many ye
Jan C
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Tony Hillerman fans
Shelves: mystery, native
This was the first book I read in the Vicky Holden-Father John series. It brings in shades of Sacajawea, the Shoshone woman who guided Lewis and Clark. She had apparently told an agent's wife the story of her adventure and several historians have disappeared on the Wind River Reservation looking for this story.

I only picked this up for the historical reference. That was the hook for me.

The two books I have read since don't really measure up to this book. Not this book was perfect.

The author rea
Apr 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Coel continues to write good mysteries surrounded by excellent characters and weaves in the history of the Shoshone and Arapahoe Indians.

In this book a friend of Vicki's from college comes to the reservation to research Sacajawea and the tales of the elders about her time among them. History says that Sacajawea died as a relatively young woman but Shoshone history claims she lived to be almost 100. She told tales to all who would listen of her time with the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

When the re
Chris Demer
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
An old friend of Vicky Holden comes to town to pursue research on Sacajawea, the Shoshone woman who guided the Lewis and Clark expedition. It is rumored that she was buried on the reservation (an area that is home to Shoshone and Arapaho), and that her memoirs, dictated to a white woman were saved from a fire and are in the hands of a local Indian.
When the student plans to meet the owner of the memoirs, she disappears. Interestingly, a woman looking into the same research disappeared 20 years a
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery, history, Native American Indians
Shelves: margaret-coel
Margaret Coel's books on the Wind River Reservation are the best books I have read on this subject. The series is center
around Father John, a priest on the reservation and Vicky Holden an Arapahoe woman lawyer .
Father John has been order to leave the reservation and Vickey is trying to reconcile with her ex-husband. Father John finds a grave near the river and Vicky's friend is missing. The story touches on spousal abuse and the reactions of individuals involved.
Vicky's friend is searching Sacaj
Edward Amato
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Wow, if you didn't think males were the scum of the earth before reading this book you would probably feel that way after. Most of the males were wife/girlfriend beaters. The main guy was not but he was an alcoholic priest. The other priest was a horrible anthropologist who all but shoved his never-ending, culture-nabbing tape recorder up or in the Native Americans orifices. I was also irritated by the "luke-warm" hamburger and meat comments in the dialogue throughout the book. The book was ente ...more
Apr 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Margaret Coel's book is part of a series with a Native American woman and a Catholic priest as the main characters. In reading it one senses that while the main characters are strong individuals the priest is the stronger of the two. Each has there own personality problem, he a recovering alcoholic, she is an abused spouse (ex-spouse) with the psychological issues it brings. At the end of this book she has a page explaining the plot in historical perspective a la Bernard Cornwell.
However, I mus
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
#6 in the Wind River series. The series features Fr John O'Malley, pastor of St Francis mission on the Arapaho Wind River Reservation, and Vicky Holden, Indian lawyer.

Wind River series - Fr John O'Malley is ordered to assume a teaching position in Milwaukee. The skeleton he finds is that of a woman gone missing while researching the life of Sacajawea 20 years earlier; now another academic, attempting to finish the original research, is missing. Vicky Holden, failing to reconcile with ex-husband
Kathleen O'Nan
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This 6th book in the O'Malley/Holden series gets an extra star from me for 2 reasons. The first is the sensitive and realistic handling of the question of domestic abuse. Women of varying backgrounds are abused (not only the poor Indian women, but also the well-educated white professor) and the reasons are the same. Secondly, the treatment of the history, incomplete as it is in reality and in the novel, of Sacajawea, the Native American woman who helped guide the Lewis and Clark expedition throu ...more
Katherine P
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-read, 2011
I really thought I was having a hard time getting into this book but somehow before I knew it I was sucked in and had read 2/3 of it in 1 sitting. As always Coel does a fantastic job with character development and atmosphere. I found the interweaving of domestic violence with the historical aspect of Sacajawea very well done and fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Coel in the future.
Sherrill Watson
Dec 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Not quite as interesting as any of the Hillerman books, but quite good. Father John O'Malley (very Irish) and Vicky Holden, a big-city lawyer, fight crime on the Arapaho reservation. This is one of a series of books, the first I've read, so I don't know how the others measure up. I'm comparing them to Tony Hillerman's books. The Spirit Woman refers to Sacajawea, a supposed diary of someone who knew about her trip had written.
Dec 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is another of the Wind River series that pairs Fr. John O'Malley with Arapaho lawyer, VIcky Holden, to solve a murder. This one involves the death of two scholars, twenty years apart, who are on the trail of written memoirs supposedly dictated to an Indian agent's wife by Sacajawea of Lewis and Clark fame. The thread running through the mystery and the female character's lives is that of domestic abuse. Not my favorite in the series, but still a thoughtful page-turner.
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Margaret Coel is the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of the acclaimed novels featuring Father John O'Malley and Vicky Holden, as well as several works of nonfiction. Originally a historian by trade, she is considered an expert on the Arapaho Indians.
More about Margaret Coel...

Other Books in the Series

Wind River Reservation (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • The Eagle Catcher (Wind River Reservation, #1)
  • The Ghost Walker (Wind River Reservation, #2)
  • The Dream Stalker (Wind River Reservation, #3)
  • The Story Teller (Wind River Reservation, #4)
  • The Lost Bird (Wind River Reservation, #5)
  • The Thunder Keeper (Wind River Reservation, #7)
  • The Shadow Dancer (Wind River Reservation, #8)
  • Killing Raven (Wind River Reservation, #9)
  • Wife of Moon (Wind River Reservation, #10)
  • Eye of the Wolf (Wind River Reservation, #11)

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