Ella Clah, a First Nations Police Special Investigator, is the central character in a series of mystery/police procedural novels by American authors Aimee Thurlo and David Thurlo.

She is also one of the most enduring and popular characters in detective fiction today. Ella’s dedicated fans have long dreamed of the bestselling, critically acclaimed series coming to television.

Blackening Song
is the debut of FBI agent Ella Clah, who returns to the reservation to investigate the murder of her father, a minister. The ritual nature of the killing makes Ella’s brother, a medicine man, the prime suspect.

Without cooperation from the tribe, the FBI, or the local police, Ella must plumb the depths of the struggle between traditionalist and modernist forces among the reservation to find her father’s murderer.

Book Series

Step into the world of law enforcement and cultural traditions with the captivating Ella Clah series by Aimee & David Thurlo. Enter the rugged terrain of the Navajo Nation and the complex mind of Ella Clah, the first woman to become a police officer in the First Nations Special Investigations Division.

To learn more about the critically acclaimed book series, click below for more information!

more information
In Development as a TV Series

Based on the Acclaimed Mystery Series
Aímee and David Thurlo

An accomplished FBI agent, Ella Clah becomes head of a tribal police unit as she grows increasingly conflicted about the life, people, and world she left behind years ago.

She was raised in a discordant household that made her childhood difficult: There always seemed to be a vehement clash between her father, a Modernist – a fundamentalist preacher – and her mother, a Traditionalist who follows the old tribal ways.

Torn between two paradigms, Ella married right out of high school, a rebellious escape. She was shy, insecure, and overly reliant on her Army Ranger husband Eugene until his death in a car accident.

When this happened, her sense of identity was shattered, and she moved away.

She is culturally competent with unique perspectives in two completely different worlds: the cutthroat, fast-paced domain of FBI/federal law enforcement, and rural, deliberately paced, traditional life on the Reservation.

She is culturally competent with unique perspectives in two completely different worlds: the cut throat, fast-paced domain of FBI/federal law enforcement, and rural, deliberately paced, traditional life on the Reservation.

Despite all this, she is torn between two vastly different paradigms which meet in a head-on collision as she is forced back to the place she tried to forget, where she must reconnect with her estranged people to solve her father’s murder, and a string of cases that bring her ever closer to her past as her future comes into question when she becomes pregnant with a daughter she is too afraid to have.

Thematically, the series explores identity, purpose, beliefs, and balance: Walking in beauty amidst the divergence and intersections of modern and traditionalist beliefs, right realism (individual) vs. cultural criminology (systemic), as well as science vs. mysticism, spirituality, and a rich exploration of Native American culture, mythology and folklore as Ella seeks to find her place in three vastly different worlds: Rural life of Nations, urban Anglo society, and the world of those like her that enforce the thin blue line, fraying at the seams.

Main Characters

Learn more about the characters and the story behind them

Rose Destea

Ella’s mother. A gifted traditionalist, loving, funny and infuriating in a way that only a mother can be. Committed to life on the reservation. She’s a large personality that can be smothering to Ella.

She pushes and pulls on Ella’s emotions. She  shares a frighteningly astute intuition  with her daughter and loves her dog, named… Dog.

Ella's Father

Stubborn. Impossible to deal with.  He broke from the traditionalist views of his people and converted to Christianity.  He lobbied for the building of a church on the reservation at a site seen as  “contaminated by the dead”. The site was also close to the soon to be erected community college. This angered the traditionalists. Some say he was risking his life, a traitor to the old ways.

He is a preacher spreading the gospel around the reservation in an ice cream truck. He turned to Christianity our of a fear of his wife’s uncanny abilities. He sought comfort and  security in Christianity and felt it would help keep the family safe.

Clifford Clah

18,  Ella’s fearless and charismatic, traditionalist brother  who is vehemently against their father’s Christian beliefs. He  represents the demand that she return to the culture she betrayed. He forces a return upon her. He’s  a medicine man and radical fighter for native American rights.  He will not rest until he sees justice for the tribe.  His wife blames him for the recent loss of their son (stillborn)  and he  goes into hiding ( book 1) as he is  being pursued by a dangerous sect, even though they held opposing views. As a  medicine man (hataalii),  he  seeks to restore order  and harmony with his abilities. He is the  FBI’s primary suspect.

Wilson Joe

A  college professor and Clifford’s friend from high school who Ella had a crush on. Ella’s mother Rose had always hoped they would get together. A prideful Native American who was tough to read, even for Ella.  She and Wilson have a platonic but flirtatious relationship.

Peterson Yazzie

A  powerful  skinwalker. Ella’s cousin and tribal police sergeant  with  ambitions to someday become tribal police chief. Staunch traditionalist. Ella is cautious of his intentions  from the get.  Ella’s instincts force her to not trust him.  Nephew to Ella’s father.  

Dwayne Blalock

The demanding, by-the-books Anglo (bilagaana) FBI agent who heads up the Bureau’s Albuquerque office. He is known as FBEyes on the reservation due his having one blue eye and one green eye. An outsider with little respect for the traditions and customs followed on the reservation.

Big Ed Atcitty

Newly minted tribal police chief (Book 2) and Ella’s boss. He calls Ella “Shorty” even though she’s a full head taller than him (and most other men on the reservation too).

Ed got his name “Big” because he was shaped like a barrel with arms. Legend has it he has never been knocked to the ground by a perp.

Dr. Carolyn Roanhorse

Heavy-set, all business with a confident swagger. She is the medical examiner for the reservation. She is seen as a tolerated pariah as she may carry the “ghost sickness” by being around the dead.

Justine Goodluck

Petite with looks younger than her years, she’s been overlooked her entire life as the youngest of seven children. She is Ella’s second cousin and is given a badge and appointed Ella’s assistant by Big Ed.

Detective Harry Ute

Cadaverously thin with a persistently glum expression and the lead investigator of the two-person tribal crime scene unit.

Sergent Ralph Tache

Stocky, round and the other half of a two-person tribal crime scene unit. He’s the assistant investigator and photographer.


Another word for "wolf" is "mai-coh," meaning witch. The First Nation's fear of wolves derives not from the nature of the animal but rather from the potential for monstrous behavior from humans.

Not all Navajo witches are Skinwalkers, but all Skinwalkers are witches.

Book Series

A neo-Western psychological thriller in which the titular character, an FBI agent in Los Angeles, finds herself questioning everything she once believed about herself and her people when she is reluctantly pulled back to the Reservation she was raised on to investigate the ritualistic murder of her father.

Ella's brother, a medicine man, is in hiding as the prime suspect. As the tribe, FBI, and local authorities refuse to cooperate, she is compelled to navigate the struggle between the Old guard and the new ways of her tribe to solve his murder.

Thus begins a quest for truths across an exciting and expansive character driven procedural mystery series as Ella becomes a special investigator with the tribal police to solve crimes on the reservation, which involve tribal politics, cultural divides and the blurred lines between folklore and the truly supernatural.

All the while, old demons begin to surface, and tribal divisiveness is on the rise, and she soon realizes that the dangers facing her on the Reservation are with far greater stakes than anything she’s encountered before. On top of it all, she becomes pregnant with a daughter she is petrified to raise, let alone bring into the world.

Get ready to unravel the mysteries with Ella Clah as she brings her captivating book series to the TV screen!