Book Review: The Spirit and the Skull by J. M. Hayes

The Spirit and the SkullThe Spirit and the Skull
J.M. Hayes
Poisoned Pen Press, August 2014
ISBN: 9781464202827

Here is a mystery truly from ancient crumbling pages of a time long gone. The narrator is an ancient member of a tribe from the Paleolithic era. He inhabits a time and a nomadic tribe that is making its troubled way slowly down the western coast of what we now call the Western Hemisphere. Raven, the narrator, is a conflicted member of this tribe, because, while he is an agnostic with deep-seated questions about the spiritual construct of the tribe, he is their designated Spirit Man. Raven must play the role of mediator, detective and ultimately, judge. and what if the killer is a comely young woman with whom Raven may be falling in love?

Raven interacts with a powerful, scary Earth Mother in a long and winding trail to determine a murderer. Murderers are the most disturbing individuals in the tribe, they cause the most unrest and must be rooted out in order to preserve the fragile fabric of the tribe as it wanders south through forest and mountains, encountering great beasts and natural barriers of monumental stature.

The novel is an interesting and penetrating look at what and how it might have been in those ancient times, when some of our myths and legends and, indeed some of our cherished traditions where formed in the cradle of a time long gone.

Author J.M. Hayes is a fine and thoughtful writer with an original vision and an intriguing story to tell.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, September 2014.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.