A Murdering Monster and a Myth Come to Life
After a police shootout where she killed a man, criminologist Maggie Tall Bear Sloan retires from the force to enjoy peace and quiet in rural California. When sets of young twins are murdered in her town, the local sheriff recruits her to solve the gruesome killings.
But to catch a killer, Maggie either accepts her true nature as a “pukkukwerek” —the shapeshifting monster killer of Yurok legend—or more children will die.
As the manhunt intensifies and her own family is threatened, Maggie will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. Whether she’s awake or asleep dreaming, Maggie is faced with a difficult choice: embrace her heritage—even if it means turning into myth itself—or deny that heritage and lose everything.
Some said a pair of ghosts haunted Mama Winter’s Bookstore and Coffee House. In spite of her own unexplained experiences, Maggie wasn’t about to buy into the idea of phantoms and spirits. When Sally complained about items mysteriously flying off shelves, spooky disembodied voices, and opening shop some mornings to find all the furniture had been rearranged during the night, Maggie said, “There’s no such thing as ghosts. Someone’s messing with you.”
The ghost story first circulated in the late 19th century when a mysterious fire broke out and gutted Wicklow Mercantile and Apothecary, the building that later housed Mama’s. The owners, brothers Caleb and Jedidiah perished in the inferno. According to legend, their ghosts haunted the building, and were responsible for all kinds of mischief. Sally named them “Iggy and Squiggy” and often talked to them. Maggie thought it absurd, but even she was a little unnerved when this morning she arrived as Sally opened shop, and the two women discovered every bistro table and chair in the place piled on top of one another into a wobbly tower that reached to the ceiling.
“Looks like a cartoon magician’s balancing act. Who else has a key?” asked Maggie.
“John has one, and so does Dawn.”
“Where were they last night after you closed?”
“John, as usual, was passed out drunk.” Sally tapped her fingers on the barista bar. “Let see. Dawn’s still working at the Dandelion this week…no, no, she’s at the Medieval Festival in San Diego, that’s right. She’s not even in town.”
“Has to be some explanation. Maybe kids came in through a window.”
“I don’t know why you are in such denial,” Sally said. “As I recall, you’ve had an experience or two of your own.”
Sally was the only person Maggie told about Mikey, the “Hey Girly Ghost,” she called him. Just now, she regretted having said anything. Maggie inspected the interior, found all the doors and windows secure with no evidence of forced entry. “I’m telling you, someone is fuckin’ with you, Sally. Don’t give in to this ghost story stuff.”
Sally looked toward the ceiling. “Iggy and Squiggy, do you mind? You know how challenging it is to run a business around here. I don’t need to deal with your B.S. on top of everything else. Cut me a break, will ya? She disappeared behind the bar and retrieved a white pillar candle and a bag of sea salt. She lit the candle, mumbled a few words, and walked clockwise around the coffee shop throwing handfuls of the salt into each of the corners.
“What are you doing?” Maggie asked.
“Protection and cleansing spell.”
“Really, Sally?” Maggie laughed and shook her head.
“Yes, really. And, don’t ridicule what you don’t understand.”