Frank Herbert,
Soul Catcher
(Bantam, 1973)

Soul Catcher is an old book, but it is still one of the best thrillers ever penned about a militant native. It is well worth the effort to secure a copy.

When Charles Hobuhet's teenage sister commits suicide after being raped by a gang of drunken loggers, he goes off the deep end. This 26-year-old doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Washington reverts to his native roots and the traditions of his ancestors to seek his revenge.

Charlie goes into the mountains for a period of fasting and eating the devil's club roots. A bee, who he views as "Tamanawis the Soul Catcher," the greatest of spirits, stings him and he decides that he has been changed into "Katsuk," which means "the center of the universe." He hears the spirit order him to find and kill an innocent white.

He kidnaps David Marshall, the 13-year-old son of the U.S. Undersecretary of State, and carries him through the wilderness of Olympic National Park in Washington. At first David believes Katsuk is just a crazy Indian, but he becomes convinced that there really is a paranormal spirit force at work. Is the crazy Indian really protected by crows?

Charlie intends to sacrifice David, but the longer he is around him, the more he admires him. David might be a rich, white kid; but he is tough, smart and adaptable. Can Charlie still sacrifice him, even if he admires him? Does he dare defy the Soul Catcher?

This book will make your pulse pound and keep you riveted in place until the last word. This brilliant mind-twister from the author of Dune will leave you shaken. Do not expect this to be your run-of-the-mill kidnap story. It is unique.

The character development is among the best I have seen. The two metamorphose from strangers to almost friends, as the author steadily reveals more of their inner workings. Each grows throughout their ordeal.

Soul Catcher is a masterpiece based on Native American folklore, with a twist at the end. It is destined to become a classic of the genre.

book review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

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