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The debut novel by Ramona Emerson (Diné), an award-winning filmmaker and former Albuquerque PD forensic photographer captures life and death on the Navajo reservation in this visceral and chilling debut novel.
Drawing on her own upbringing in the New Mexico Navajo Nation as well as her experience working as an Albuquerque PD forensic photographer, Ramona Emerson offers a debut novel like none other: a lush depiction of life on the reservation; a southwestern police/cartel drama that draws from real cases
Emerson observed; and a rich, celebratory catalogue of Diné culture as told through the point of view of an unforgettable girl-next-door who is forced to turn superhero to seek justice for the underserved.
The resulting mélange of horror and crime fiction reaches leave-a-light-on-after-reading level thrills. This may be Emerson’s fiction debut, but she is no stranger to storytelling. During her 20-year career in film as a videographer, writer, and editor she has been an Emmy nominee, a Sundance Native Lab Fellow, a Time-Warner Storyteller Fellow, a Tribeca All-Access Grantee and a WGBH Producer Fellow. In 2020, Ramona was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries for the State of New Mexico.
In Shutter, Emerson gives us Rita Todacheene, a forensic photographer working for the Albuquerque police force. Her excellent photography skills have cracked many cases—she is almost supernaturally good at capturing details. In fact, Rita has been hiding a secret: she sees the ghosts of crime victims who point her toward the clues that other investigators overlook. As a lone portal back to the living for traumatized spirits, Rita is terrorized by nagging ghosts who won’t
let her sleep and who sabotage her personal life. Her taboo and psychologically harrowing ability was what drove her away from the Navajo reservation, where she was raised by her grandmother. It has isolated her from friends and gotten her in trouble with the law. And now it might be what gets her
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