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Amber's Thoughts

Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series



Courage and Compassion in a Real-Life Amateur Sleuth

“Amateur” comes from French meaning one who loves, or one who acts for love. It now means an unpaid person, not a professional. In mystery fiction, the amateur sleuth borders on implausible when it comes to investigating murders, so writers come up with ways to get an amateur involved by giving her a personal stake in the case such as being accused of the crime, or a friend being accused, or the death of someone they know. Lissa Yellow Bird got involved because she cared about strangers—about a woman in the far-off state of Washington who had lost her son when he disappeared from Lissa’s land, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. He was one of the outsiders who flooded the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota during the oil boom. Lissa didn’t know him, but she was a mother with sons. That was enough. And she’d seen what the oil boom was doing to her people. She brings love back into the meaning of amateur.


Lissa studied criminal justice in college but never worked in law enforcement. She worked as an advocate in the tribal court for a while, but she also was at one time a criminal—a drug addict and a dealer. She spent time in prison. Her insights into how criminals think, her understanding of the law and how to access criminal records, and even her contacts with law enforcement from having been arrested, made her a determined and effective amateur, searching for a missing man and for justice. Her intelligence and persistence, her willingness to give of her time, amazed me.


This is not only the story of Lissa’s investigations and searches, but of her spiritual growth, and her relationships with members of her complicated family. It’s also the story of the boom and bust on the Fort Berthold Reservation, and the story of the three tribes that live there and their relationship with their land.


The author asks some deep questions in wrapping up this story, challenging the reader to keep thinking and questioning as well. If you need an escape from escapism, a serious read that’s still a page-turner, this is your book.