John Reinhard Dizon's latest novel is his third historical novel (along with Tiara and Wolfsangel) , focusing on the Apache Wars in the southern Arizona wilderness of the late 19th century. It is a fast-paced, character-driven adventure in the spirit of his previous works, filled with authentic scenarios that will captivate history buffs, fans of the supernatural, and suspense readers alike.
The main plot centers on Moneen Murphy's journey to Arizona and Superstition Mountain as part of her research on her thesis paper as a UMKC grad student. While interviewing authorities investigating charges of genocide against the US Army during the Indian Wars of the 1870's, she discovers that her ancestral grandmother, Penelope Flame, lived with the indigenous Pima tribe during the episode. She also finds that Penny is part of the Legend of the Flame that remains part of the culture. The supernatural element of the tale takes effect as she learns how the renegade Apaches and the rogue Cavalry forces in the area manipulated the superstitions and beliefs of the natives to their advantage. The mystical repercussions culminate in a modern-day catastrophe that only the secrets of the past can help to resolve. Moneen finds herself channeling Penny to find the answers, and the spiritual communion provides closure to the transgressions of the past and a new hope for Native Americans of the future.
The expository subplot traces the early life of Penny Flame and her role in the Indian Wars between the US Army and the Apache tribe. Penny's family is murdered in an Indian raid on a wagon train, and she is sent to a Mormon settlement as an orphan child. She escapes an abusive household and runs away to the Pima reservation where she is taken in by the family of the village chief and tutored by their shaman. She learns that Apache rebels are engaged in a death struggle against the local Army garrison in the area, and are coercing the Pima to join their cause. The Apaches are rallying around an outlaw gang spearheaded by Tom Pennington, whose coldblooded memoirs of his exploits provide the grounds for the modern-day military tribunal investigation. Lt. John Malagant has sworn to destroy the renegades, and Penny joins forces with him to bring an end to the tribulation of the Pima. Only her efforts require a sacrifice that becomes part of a legend that reverberates into the 21st century, and Moneen must replicate that selflessness to deliver the embattled Pima anew.
The climax unfolds as a biker gang unwittingly conjures up the demons of the past along the enchanted mountainside shortly before an Indian festival takes place near a local country club in the area. The resulting disaster leads authorities to believe it may have been a terrorist attack, and Homeland Security descends on the local community with a vengeance. Moneen and her friends come to the aid of the beleaguered Native Americans, realizing that only spiritual intervention can vanquish the demonic forces in the land once and forever. The confrontation between the forces of good and evil comes to a thrilling conclusion that will leave its audience breathless.
This is a modern-day supernatural fiction classic, highly recommended for Western fans of all ages.