The Relentless Sun, a Riveting Historical Thriller by Robert Walton

The Bottom Line: A riveting historical thriller set at the intersection between white and tribal culture in Arizona. Fans of Dark Winds will love The Relentless Sun

Set in the 1970s, Relentless Sun begins as archeologist and investigator Harry Thursday embarks on a government mission to Flagstaff, Arizona. Working for the Bureau of Audits and Reclamation (BAR),  a clandestine Pentagon department tasked with finding lost and stolen World War II war booty, Harry returns to Flagstaff for the first time in 20 years. But what begins as an investigation into a mysterious collection of rare rubies is destined to become an absorbing murder mystery. 

A trickle of Burmese rubies – worth more than diamonds – have been flowing to a local lapidary. Meanwhile, Harry’s on-again, off-again lover and BAR supervisor, Sara, reveals the discovery of a single ruby and a deed to a long-dead mine. That’s hardly the end of it. Harry and Department of Justice partner Tom Schilling will soon find that the young Navajo woman responsible for discovering and selling the rubies to the lapidary has disappeared.  

As in Walton’s excellent Harry Thursday novel Wish to Die, the trail leads back to World War II, and includes a Navajo soldier, a Nazi spy and a business partnership gone awry. Walton always excels at tying threads together from multiple centuries, and this fourth Harry Thursday novel is no exception. As such, the case also has roots in the 1800s, where Harry and Tom will piece together fascinating regional dealings between the Mexican government and cattle barons. The closer Harry and Tom get to the truth, the closer they are to becoming victims themselves. 

Among Walton’s cast, Harry’s Hopi guide and title character, Sun, is perhaps the most enigmatic character of them all. In possession of a quick wit and beauty that Harry finds irresistible, she’s far from what she seems as she both helps and hinders the investigation. Speaking of which, Relentless Sun reveals Thursday to be quite the ladies’ man (who knew a man in a bolo tie could be so magnetic?). And when it comes to a certain provocatively placed tattoo on more than one of the female characters, Harry’s take is timeless: “location, location, location.” 

The story is set against the backdrop of the Navajo reservation, and the tensions between the Native American and white communities are a recurring theme. Further, conflict between Flagstaff’s founding family, the Moynihans, and Lone Wolf’s casino business, is emblematic of the larger cultural divide, with both sides believing that they are entitled to the treasure. The lens of Walton’s protagonist – filled with curiosity, humor and Harry’s undeniable masculinity – make this an endlessly entertaining and educational journey.

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