Book Review: C.E. Murphy’s Spirit Dances

Posted August 11, 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 Spirit Dances

Spirit Dances


It is part of the Walker Papers #6 series and is a in eBook edition on March 22, 2011 and has 368 pages.

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


Sixth in the Walker Papers urban fantasy series revolving around Joanne Walker, a detective with the Seattle PD — and an urban shaman rescuing the world.

My Take

Oooh, Joanne has a date with Morrison — K – I – S – S – I – N – G…lol… The way Jo is carrying on, you’d think it was the end of times! As much as I want the romance to get going with Joanne and Morrison, Murphy is clumsy about it when she finally starts.

I loved how Murphy explained the auras of inanimate objects — and it is something I’d like to believe! I’ll take all the help I can get! God knows, Joanne needs help when they respond to that domestic violence call and her urge to save her partner goes to war with her magic’s need to save. I also like her concept of spirit gardens and how she makes use of them. Very handy.

Poor Jo. Morrison takes her to task for responding as any other cop would, and it intensifies Jo’s desire for a manual. It’s a good bit of foreshadowing, as it preps Jo for what is to come and provides a new use for her talents.

This is also the installment in which Jo starts to understand that, while she’s something special, she’s not that special, mostly because of the power she experiences with the dance.

Wow, the dance put on by the Native American dance group sounds incredible! And that’s not the only wow in this! VERY unexpected shape changes and revelations are followed up by wildly crazy chase scenes, new talents, and the unexpected perspective of looking through a snake’s eyes. Events also trigger memories of Joanne’s childhood with its revelations.

Jo acquires and learns a lot about a new spirit guide she’ll need. And she learns to shapeshift! Jo is also still processing the new weaknesses she’s learned about one of her partners.

Why is it okay for Jo to protect people now when it wasn’t okay at the start? Both times, the other party was attacking or hurting humans before Jo took action. What’s different?

The whole Master/banshee big-bad appears in this as well, and still Murphy doesn’t dramatize this as much as it needs. It’s such a nothing event, but does perform the task of being the overall series conflict.

Oh, wow, I can definitely say I was not expecting either of those endings!

The Story

Domestic violence gone wrong and strange occurrences that end in murder at a Native American dance performance combine to change everyone’s lives.

It’s the villain’s garden that provides the vision of the werewolves’ past history as well as their binding.

The Characters

Detective Joanne Walker, a.k.a., Siobhán Walkingstick, is a mechanic obsessed with cars and a healer/warrior shaman who has been “mixed up fresh”. Yeah, not your usual shaman. She’s also got a mouth that can’t quit. Petite is her 1969 Mustang. Raven is one of her spirit guides, and he really likes Pop Tarts while Rattlesnake becomes another of her guides. Gary Muldoon is a septuagenarian taxi-drivin’ buddy of hers who’s been with her from the start of her spiritual journey.

Detective Billy Holliday is her no-longer-cross-dressing(!) partner who can see dead people. Well, the recently dead, anyway. His wife, Melinda, has power herself, and together, they’ve passed powers to their children: Robert is the oldest, Jacquie, Clara, Erik, and baby Caroline.

Captain James Michael Morrison is in charge of the Seattle PD’s North Precinct — Joanne’s boss. Lieutenant Braxton is one of the cops. Dr. Louise Caldwell is the department shrink while Dr. Sandra Reynolds does autopsies. Other cops who make an appearance include Officer Ray Campbell, Detective Monroe, Jennifer Gonzalez works Missing Persons, Officer Dale Alred has a lot to learn, Flathead may be teaching him, Bruce, and Officer Donald King is with the West Precinct,

The Coyote who is Joanne’s mentor is also Cyrano Bia of the Diné, and he’s as interested in Joanne as Morrison is. Big Coyote is the trickster god.

The Native American dance troupe
Naomi Allison is the lead dancer and the other dances include Jim Littlefoot, Rebecca is Allison’s older sister, and Winona is Naomi’s understudy.

The homeless around Pioneer Square
Rita Wagner is the bum Jo saved in an earlier story who has turned her life around. Lynn Schumacher was a Vietnam vet.

Patricia “Patty” Raleigh has failed all her anger management courses so far. Nathan is her husband. Phoebe is a friend of Joanne’s and a fencing instructor teaching her how to wield the sword she took from Cerunnos. Thank god Jo takes fashion advice from her too! Sonata is a very powerful medium. Kobe Beef needs to take more care when driving his truck.

Tia Carley was a patron that night at the performance; she also had cancer.

The Dead Zone is HUGE and a transitory place through the dead pass. Qualla Boundary is the reservation where Jo went to high school. Cernunnos, the Horned God, the Lord of the Wild Hunt, has an uneasy alliance with Jo. Nuada of the Silver Hand made Jo’s necklace. The Master is the big evil in the series, and he uses banshees to wreak havoc.

The Cover and Title

The cover features a black-clad Joanne tugging on a string out in the sparkly woods. Far in the distance is the Seattle skyline under a sunset sky of pinks and yellows.

The title refers to the Spirit Dances that set all the action in motion.