Poisoned Pen Press, to be released early 2011.
This American cosy mystery is the fifth in the Alafair Tucker series. I have not read any of the earlier books.
After a short prologue, the story begins in Oklahoma in 1915 when the farmer Shaw Tucker is hunting quail with his sons. Their dog runs off to pick up a bird but comes back with an old boot still with the foot inside. Shaw and his sons dig out the whole body only to discover it has been shot in the head.
From the beginning, there is a strong sense of place, the Wild West with Indians and snakes, log cabins and haints. Fathers and sons go hunting together while the female members of the family spend their evenings quilting.
Though the book is called an Alafair Tucker mystery, it might be more correct to call it a Tucker mystery as her husband and their older children contribute to the solution. After the discovery of the first body, a young Indian follows Shaw Tucker who apprehends the boy and ties him up in an outhouse until they can get the sheriff. Sadly, the boy is killed when Shaw´s back is turned leaving the Turners with an extra murder to solve. They assume it must be related to Irish Roane Hawkins and the Creek Indian Lucretia Goingback, the former owners of the plot where the skeleton was found. Lucretia´s first husband disappeared mysteriously, and the family was scattered. As the title suggests, there is also an element of revenge.
The characters are well-drawn and interesting, especially Alafair and Shaw Tucker, though they seem to be a bit modern now and then. I am sure there have always been kind and patient parents around, but how many farmers in 1915 would think about whether their animals “met their ends in as humane a fashion as possible”?
On the whole this was a charming and entertaining mystery. Ghosts and superstition play a certain role for the environment and the atmosphere, but the solution of the crimes does not depend on anything supernatural. In spite of the PDF format, it was a fast read, and I wouldn´t mind meeting the engaging Tucker family again.
This was my first NetGalley review.