Book Review: C.E. Murphy’s Urban Shaman

Posted January 14, 2014 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: C.E. Murphy’s Urban Shaman

Urban Shaman

It is part of the Walker Papers #1 series and is a in Paperback edition on June 1, 2005 and has 410 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon., Barnes & NobleKobo.

First in the Walker Papers urban fantasy series that incorporates Native American beliefs and is based in Seattle.

My Take

It’s a wild and confusing twist on the Wild Hunt and Herne the Hunter which was great fun to read with a Jo sarcastic to the nth degree! Ya just can’t help but laugh your way through her smart remarks including the Star Trek, Star Wars, and Shakespearean references. The writing’s a bit rough; in some places I felt like I was scrambling through a field of boulders. In other places, I was confused as to what Jo’s job is, her conclusions about why Cernunnos takes Marie, and what the whole deal is with the Rider. That whole section had me wobbling in circles, trying to understand.

Still ya can’t fault her for her sense of what’s right. She saw that woman being chased through the streets while coming in for a landing on the plane…and she’s sticking to that story.

Murphy pulls ya right in with that comment about her mother and her whines about flying in from a funeral to be fired. Nor is Jo a great flyer…complain, complain, complain. That analogy of car repair for how to repair a body? The mental visuals kept cracking me up. I must say, Coyote is certainly much more contemporary and flexible in his language than I would’ve expected.

“In response to the cab driver’s comment about thinking he’s always enough problems of his own without taking on someone else’s, Jo says, ’Maybe I’ve got enough that I need somebody else’s to make the load seem lighter.'”

Some of those rough patches included why Gary went along for the ride — there aren’t many cab drivers who would actually stick with you through all this — nor do I understand how Herne is tied to Jo.

“This was a church where you came to be terrified into obedience, not welcomed as a sinner who has found the true way.”

Jo kind of reminds me of Anita Blake when she encounters that sword at the diner. I can so see Anita doing the same thing to get close to what she wants to kill. And it’s this first death that opens Jo up to her shamanic abilities. As well as the meeting with Coyote! Still, Murphy doesn’t do anything to convince me that this move is in Jo’s character. Yes, I believed it at first, but later as I become more confused about exactly what Jo’s job is, it just doesn’t work for me. I lean toward believing she’s a mechanic in the cop shop except there are plenty of hints that she’s a real cop, of some sort, for how can Morrison demote her to foot patrol if she’s a mechanic??

“It’s hard to immerse yourself in a … belief, without beginning to understand that even if you don’t believe it, that someone did…”

Crack. Me. Up! I love the squad’s remarks when Joanie falls in Morrison’s office! Oh, man, ROFLMAO. Although, I can’t decide if I’m irritated or amused by all those unwanted amorous thoughts Jo has about Captain Morrison. I suspect part of my irritation comes from it being too much tell and not enough show. Murphy talks up that “close enough to kiss”, but doesn’t bring in any emotion other than Jo’s own annoyance and confusion. I suspect it’ll turn out to be a slam dunk of a foreshadow of the attraction that teeters back and forth between these two. It does gives us a taste of how much her coworkers like her as well. The lengths to which they’ll go to stave off trouble for her…! In the end, demographics saves her cute little butt.

What has Jo been doing in Ireland? I mean, besides visit with her dying mother? Was she out step-dancing every night? How can she be so incredibly tired? At least she was awake enough to grasp the Irish way of getting a spot of tea, LOL. She is right, you know.

Oh, lord, then there’s her lighthearted thoughts about a new career: an escort service with oil change and dinner, LOL. Jo goes on to free associate, with, you know, other words that apply to car repair like lube job, and she figures she’d better quit while she’s ahead. Ahem.

It’s those lighthearted moments that get you through the rest as the pendulum swings back and forth. One minute she’s about to be fired, the next she’s demoted, and then the powers-that-be are wondering if they need a straitjacket.

What I do like about this story is Jo. She acts more like a guy than a girl, and she just wants to keep on doing the job she loves — whether it’s mechanic or cop, it’s obvious that it’s her dream career. She’s got such a snarky sense of humor, and while she doesn’t irritate people on purpose, she will bull through to do what’s right. There’s a scene between Jo and Morrison after Jo has healed someone and freaked out the doctors, and Morrison wants answers. He utters the clichéd “I always liked you…” to which Jo has her trademark response: truth. It’s a twist and what follows simply twists even more and will make you laugh even as you groan along with Jo.

The Story

It’s a woman being chased by a pack of dog while a knife-playing man stands by that catches Jo’s eye. Admittedly, she’s several thousand feet up in the air in a plane coming in for a landing, but she saw it, and dagnabit, she’s gonna check it out.

It might have been better for Jo if she’d written it off as her meddling will find her on the run for her life from a Celtic god of Death, his Wild Hunt, AND his insane son.

As it is, there’s a serial killer on the loose, and its those ghosts who set Jo on the shamanic path she must follow.

The Characters

Joanne Walker, a.k.a., Siobhán Walkingstick, is half-Cherokee and half-Irish, more mechanic than cop, and a computer geek besides, even though she has a degree in English from University of Washington. Petite is her 1969 Mustang. Her dad was Cherokee; her mom, Sheila McNamarra, was Irish; and, Jo was the product of a one-night-stand.

Gary Muldoon is a seventy-three-year-old former-linebacker, now a cab driver, with a penchant for Shakespeare who gets caught up in the chase. Sometimes I wonder if he isn’t Jo’s guardian angel. Ann was his beloved wife. I do love what Gary says about his wife, “Annie liked ’em big, not stupid.” Keith is the dispatcher at Tripoli Cabs who will be receiving an unexpected thanks.

Maria D’Ambra, an anthropologist studying cultural mythologies, is the woman being chased. Rachel Quinley is a part-time lawyer so she can be home when Suzanne, her daughter, gets home from school. David is another lawyer, Suzanne’s father. Stuart is the boy smitten over her.

The Seattle PD
Billy Holliday is Seattle’s only cross-dressing detective, and he’s married to Melinda. Captain Michael Morrison came on board after Nichols retired. Unfortunately, he couldn’t tell a Mustang from a Corvette…and he goes into a fine rant about why he doesn’t like our Jo. Bruce is usually on the front desk; he’s married to Elise. Rex stalks off to defend her; Raymond has some files she can look at; Jennifer Gonzalez is in charge of Missing Persons; “Thor” took over Joanie’s old mechanic job; Nick is Jo’s former supervisor; and, Mark Rodriquez is hard on cars.

Laura Corvalis is a local TV anchor. Mrs. Henrietta Potter is the interfering biddy of a schoolteacher, thank god. Casey O’Brien is an archeologist and an old friend from Jo’s college days. It’s a quick bite with Casey that tips Jo off to the path she wants to follow of saving the world.

Cernunnos, a Celtic horned god of fertility and death, leads the Wild Hunt, which collects the souls of the dead. We learn of Herne the Hunter‘s birth into what he is now, although he’s also Cernunnos’ son. Richard II was Herne’s liege lord.

Coyote is a Native American trickster god. He claims Grandfather Sky, a.k.a., The Maker, intends for Jo to live, as he worked hard on her. He wanted “to bring together two very old cultures to make a child who would bridge both of them.”

The interrupted include Hester, Roger, Samantha, Jackson, and Adina whose next of kin was Kevin Sadler.

Banshee can tell if someone is going to die. Yuletide seems to be a combination of Christmas and solstice + half-moon cycle with the twelve days of Christmas beginning on Christmas Day and running through the sixth of January.

Gwyld is Gaelic for shaman or wise man.

The Cover and Title

It’s all partials in this purple-toned cover with grayed colors of toasty brown and aged denim with a glimpse of Jo’s torso and upper thigh in her toasty cropped top that reveals her toned tummy above the worn blue jeans while Native American tokens dangle from one hand. The background is another partial of a brick-lined alley clad in cave-painting-style graffiti.

The title introduces Jo, she’s the Urban Shaman.