Deathmark
by Jann Arrington-Wolcott



Pronghorn Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1-941-05203-7.
Reviewed by Susan J. Tweit
Posted on 01/18/2015

Fiction: Thriller; Fiction: Spirituality

Callahan O'Connor is a 49-year-old artist whose paintings of Native Americans have made her a sensation with dealers and collectors, but her life is a mess. She has just divorced an abusive husband, her self-image is in the toilet, and she has to take a Xanax to make it through gallery openings—until she meets the handsome man her San Francisco gallery has hired to escort her to a reception with fabulously wealthy and important collectors. Something about Luke, tall, blue-eyed and only a year older than Callahan's son, tugs at Callahan's heart.

If this sounds like the beginning of a stereotypical romance, it's not. Yes, Luke and Callahan end up in bed, but a birthmark Luke carries sends their relationship into the shadows, increasing the frequency and intensity of the vivid dreams Callahan has been having of life with a village of Lakota Indians, dreams that inspire her sought-after paintings. Dreams of a great love, of danger and sudden death followed by a grief so real it has Callahan foundering in her daily life. Luke follows Callahan home to Tesuque, north of Santa Fe, and brings with him a whole other darkness involving a murder and a small fortune in drug money that Callahan knows nothing about until nearly too late.

The two stories, one of young Lakota lovers centuries ago, and the other of Callahan and Luke, a woman and man unwittingly caught up in each other, spiral together in a thriller that draws on the glitzy Santa Fe art world, shamanism, Lakota life, reincarnation, the drug trade, inherited trauma, and one very brave Great Dane. The result is a fast-paced story that raises some interesting questions about life's present, past and future, and includes some very funny moments. It's a good read.

One jarring note—and this is the publisher's responsibility: the text of the print copy that I received for review is awkwardly typeset, with varying spaces between the lines and sometimes wide gaps between the letters, which seems surprisingly unprofessional.

Read an excerpt from this book.


Jann Arrington-Wolcott has been a fashion model, actress, high-school teacher, magazine writer, and public speaker. A third-generation New Mexican whose family includes a Cherokee great-grandmother, a Harvey Girl grandmother, a frontier sheriff and a train robber, she was raised on a ranch near the Mexican border. Her first novel, Brujo, was made into the movie "Seduced By Evil" starring Suzanne Somers. Arrington-Wolcott lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her retired physicist husband, John, and two dogs. Visit her website.

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