Saturday, January 29, 2011

Crying Blood by Donis Casey

Donis Casey has taken an unusual turn in this fifth book in her Alafair Tucker series.  The mysteries tell the story of Alafair, her husband, Shaw, and their ten children in the early twentieth century in rural Oklahoma.  Each of the earlier books found one of Alafair's older children involved in a murder, with the protective mother taking over in order to keep her child from harm.  And, in each book, we learn a little more about ranch life in the 1900s from the woman's viewpoint, cooking, doing laundry.  Casey is a master at providing details that bring the time period to life.  But, Crying Blood departs from that pattern.  In this book, we see life from the male point of view, and Shaw takes center stage.  Fans of this series should be very pleased to get to know the husband and father of the Tucker family as he becomes the sleuth.                                                                                                

Shaw, his two sons, his brother, and his sons, went hunting in the fall of 1915 on property that belonged to Shaw's stepfather.  But, the first day they flushed quail, one of the dogs returned with a boot with bones in it.  When they followed the dog to the burial site, they found a body, shot in the head.  And, Shaw, for some reason he didn't understand himself, took a snake necklace from the site.  That night, while the others slept, Shaw saw moccasins outside the tent, and heard his name called.  He didn't find anyone.  The next day, after reporting to the sheriff, the men went home early, but someone followed them.  And, Shaw remained uneasy, questioning his stepfather, only to hear that the land was haunted, and they stay away from it.

Trying to forget about that body isn't too hard, when there is butchering to do for the winter, and Casey does her usual excellent job of providing the details of everyday life.  But, that night, after the first day of butchering and preparing meat, someone takes a hunk out of one of the hogs.  Shaw tracks the thief, returning home with a young Indian boy of 15, who tells a story of a white haired man who murdered his brother.  Before Shaw can learn more, the boy he thought was called Crying Blood is murdered in the barn that night.  Shaw suggests Alafair accompany his cousin, the sheriff, to find the minister who raised the boy, while he, unbeknownst to Alafair, sets out to avenge the boy's death.

Donis Casey excels at the details of ordinary life in Oklahoma.  She's told us stories of doing laundry, cooking for a large family, preparing for a funeral.  Now, she gives us hunting trips, butchering hogs, and preparing the meat, along with breeding horses.  And, she puts Shaw, the son of a Cherokee mother, on the trail of a killer, in a story about the Indians and land claims in Oklahoma.  Crying Blood is a fascinating glimpse into the past, and, for a change, into the life of Shaw Tucker.

Donis Casey's website is http://www.doniscasey.com/

Crying Blood by Donis Casey.  Poisoned Pen Press, ©2011. ISBN 9781590588314 (hardcover), 250p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I read an advanced copy on my Kindle, courtesy of the publisher.

12 comments:

Naomi Johnson said...

What a great review! I'm looking forward to casting my eyeballs over this one. Seems like a long time since the last book from Casey.

Kay said...

Oh, I loved this book so much! I was delighted to get to know Shaw better and the storyline was eerie and compelling.

Have a great time this evening if you are able to make it to the Poisoned Pen and tell Donis hello for me. I'll be reviewing CRYING BLOOD later this spring and will have a guest post from Donis.

Anonymous said...

I just finished the book this morning, Lesa. I was surprised that it focused so much on Shaw, I thought it was going to be Gee Dub's turn. Enjoyed the book a lot.

Lesa said...

Naomi,

It has been a while, two years since the last book. But, this one's good. I hope you enjoy it!

Lesa said...

Wasn't it great to get to know Shaw? He's always been there, but pretty much in the background. I liked the turn this book took.

Lesa said...

I thought this book was going to be Gee Dub's, too, but Donis must have changed her mind. I thought we were heading into WWI with this one, but I guess not yet.

Donis Casey said...

Thank you for the lovely review, as always, Lesa. I'm looking forward to seeing you tonight. And don't worry, folks, Gee Dub will get his turn.

Lesa said...

I'm getting to like Gee Dub more all the time, Donis. Looking forward to seeing you! And, it turns out the anonymous post was from my sister, who didn't mean to be anonymous.

Beth Hoffman said...

I really enjoy books that get into the details of life; they draw me in and hold my attention. This one sounds like a winner! Thanks, Lesa.

Lesa said...

Oh, Beth. You should start with the first in the series, The Old Buzzard Had it Coming. They are winners!

Beth F said...

How is it that I have never heard of this series? Have I been living under a rock? I must see if the first one is available at my library. Oh, and don't you love the cover????

Lesa said...

No, Beth. You haven't been living under a rock. This is my favorite cover in the entire series. Poisoned Pen switched illustrators, I think. If your library doesn't have The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, you can get it through interlibrary loan. It's worth trying to get!