The Spirit and the Skull

Written by J. M. Hayes
Review by Jo Ann Butler

Stealing life is forbidden to the People, a Paleolithic tribe crossing Alaska’s tundra. Nevertheless, Tall Pine is found strangled. It is up to Raven, the tribe’s spiritual leader, to uncover the murderer, but Raven has much at stake. If he can’t reveal the killer, the aging Raven may be cast out of the tribe, like other people too elderly to fend for themselves. Thus begins this novel, a pre-historical mystery created by J. M. Hayes. The story was inspired by Hayes’ work as an archeologist, and he uses his experience in the field to bring Raven’s people to life.

Raven wonders if a young woman he loves is the killer. Or is it someone in a rival tribe, led by a woman who calls herself the Earth Mother? And why does Raven dream that he is a disembodied skull held by a strange-looking man with eyes the color of ice? Though it once left me confused enough to backtrack, The Spirit and the Skull is an entertaining whodunit with a time-slip element. If you like mysteries, give it a try.