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.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
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Moments in History By Michael A. Black
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My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.