“You take what you can get.” That is what Joanne Walker tells herself towards the end of a mind-numbing journey, and it encapsulates her essence.
Joanne is a half Irish, half Cherokee officer for the Seattle Police Department. As detailed in the two previous books in the series, she started out as a garage mechanic for the department. In her spare time she still loves working on her vintage Mustang. She recently came into her power as a Shaman whose visions allow her to fight demons and spirits, along with the help of her spirit guide, Coyote, who protects her and gives her guidance.
Things don’t start out too well for Joanne in Coyote Dreams. She wakes up hung over after imbibing too much at the Fourth of July picnic. She can hardly remember how she got home, let alone how she found herself in bed with an anonymous man. Before she can kick out her one-night stand (which we soon find out isn’t what it seems to be), her boss comes to call. A confrontation with your boss while hung over and with an apparent one-night stand hanging around isn’t bad enough, Joanne has a major crush on Captain Mike Morrison. He’s the reason she got drunk in the first place; she was jealous of the attention he gave to another woman at the picnic. Morrison is at constant odds with Joanne and treats her rather rudely. In fact, he appears not to like her at all, when in actuality I suspect he felt a grudging, perhaps underlying attraction to Joanne that will probably be investigated as the series continues. His visit isn’t a social call – he needs her help because one of his best detectives has fallen into some sort of coma and is in a deep sleep. Morrison previously witnessed the supernatural side of Joanne and believes that’s what he’s dealing with.
As Joanne tries to find out what causes this sleeping sickness, more people fall asleep. She also must contend with a pesky reporter following her every move, those constant overpowering visions that come without any warning, and the loss of Coyote – who may have been killed by the evil god. At one point I thought Joanne would have a mental breakdown from all the responsibility she put on herself. She has this habit of beating herself up mentally and emotionally along with undergoing these vision and dreams that could kill her, and things aren’t helped when she realizes that it is as a result of her past journeys into the spirit world that she awakened from a dark sleep a god who has been stealing the life source from people’s souls. Joanne is tough on herself because of her past and is afraid of her feelings for others, including what she feels for Morrison. When he too succumbs to a coma, she realizes her crush is more than that and must confront it.
Joanne may have an incredible gift, but she continually sells herself short. She believes that whatever she does is always wrong and doesn’t give herself the benefit of the doubt, which in the long run does more damage than good. But she is a survivor who comes out a bit stronger as a result of this particular trial by fire.
The story is believably told in the first person; I recommend it even for those who don’t enjoy that point of view. Joanne’s inner thoughts about herself and the powers thrust upon her enthralled me. She continually questions herself, but not out of self-pity; she does it so that she won’t repeat past mistakes. On the other hand, the overall action occasionally disappointed me because everything is shown in Joanne’s mind. She doesn’t use guns or knives to defeat her enemy. She uses her wits and her powers as she walks through the murky landscapes of people’s souls and dreams. Those moments required speed-reading to get through. I wanted to see more interactions with her good friend Gary, along with Mark, the bedmate she woke up to who wants to work on a relationship with her. And of course there is that enigma of Morrison. Because of the point of view, we don’t know what he really thinks of Joanne. Their un-romance develops in a subtle and intriguing fashion and I’d like to read future books to see how the relationship progresses.
Because this is the third book in this on-going series, there were some situations and past events I had no clue about. But because I liked the book, I soldiered on, even if I was put off at times by Joanne’s constant zoning in and out of those dream-like worlds she visits. The surrealism and hidden context confused me. And yet there are so many interesting characters and sections of fascinating reading that I rooted for Joanne and hoped that she would come to the conclusion that she does have something special to offer the world around her. C.E. Murphy has written a marvelous character in that of Joanne Walker. Her individuality and inner angst are poignantly done in this urban fantasy series.