The Outback mining town of Coober Pedy doesn’t, upon first glance, seem like the perfect setting for a series of bizarre ritualistic murders. Yet when Agent Leon Armstrong arrives, he finds himself dealing with violent death and an increasing attraction to a displaced Russian shaman.
Of Sami descent, Sergei Menshikov is far from home in Australia and farther still from his traditional mystic roots. He works as an opal miner and likes the quiet, solitary nature of it. But the spirits have never left him alone for long and when a dangerous enemy arrives in Coober Pedy, Sergei must call upon his traditional shamanistic skills in order to stop a string of murders. The only positive is the spirits’ determination that Sergei and Leon should be together. But Sergei’s world is strange and unpredictable and to save the man he loves, Leon will have to take a leap of faith.
The Shaman of Kupa Piti is a murder mystery, a romance, and religious journey all bundled into one. Most of the time that combination works well and while The Shaman of Kupa Piti has some issues, it’s unique enough to offer something fun to most readers.
The author has done a great job of setting the scene and creating a strong sense of time and place. Coober Pedy is a lonesome little town miles from anywhere and home to miners and not many others. It was easy to imagine the isolation and remoteness of this little town and how a sudden spate of murders might rattle such a small community. Coober Pedy feels like a character of her own in the book, but it’s subtly done and I appreciated how natural that seemed while I was reading.
Sergei and Leon are both well structured characters and they read as fully dimensional. Their relationship, despite its formation under pressure and the touch of fate that seems involved, had a natural evolution and development. Sergei is more mysterious and standoffish when compared to Leon, but that makes sense and works as an extension of his shamanism.
There are some pacing problems with The Shaman of Kuba Piti. At times, the action tends to slow and even stumble over the weight of its own story. This does affect the book’s readability, though I think it’s worth the effort on the part of readers. Sergei’s shamanism was occasionally overwhelming as I tried to understand how it worked and it’s purpose to the wider plot. Additionally, there’s a lot of involvement with body fluids in this book related to shamanism, but honestly, it’s something I could have done without.
The Shaman of Kupa Piti is romantic mystery with a believable pair of unique characters that left a strong impression with me. The story is well done and while there are pacing issues, they didn’t derail things completely. I think anyone who enjoys mysteries and especially those with some originality, is going to like The Shaman of Kupa Piti.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.