With her gritty mysteries steeped in authentic Native American culture, New York Times bestselling author Margaret Coel is “widely considered the most accomplished heir to Tony Hillerman’s legacy,” (Scripps Howard News Service). In the latest Wind River novel, Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden and Father John O’Malley confront a ruthless killer in the wake of a miraculous event.
A mysterious penitent confesses to murder, and then flees the confessional before Father John can identify him. Two months later, Vicky discovers rancher Dennis Carey shot dead in his truck along Blue Sky Highway. With the tragic news comes the exposure of an astonishing secret: the most sacred creature in Native American mythology, a white buffalo calf, was recently born on Carey’s ranch.
Making national headlines, the miraculous animal draws a flood of pilgrims to the reservation, frustrating an already difficult investigation. As visitors throw the reservation into turmoil, Vicky and Father John try to unravel the strange events surrounding both Carey’s murder and the recent disappearances of three cowboys from his ranch.
It could be coincidence, given the nomadic life of the cowboy trade, but when one of them fails to appear in court to testify on an assault charge, Vicky wonders if Arnie Walkfast and his Arapaho buddies are guilty of more than just assault. And at the back of Father John’s mind is the voice from the man in the confessional: I killed a man…
At the start of Coel's compelling 18th mystery set on Wyoming's Wind River Reservation (after 2013's Killing Custer), a man enters the confessional to tell Fr. John O'Malley he has committed murder, then runs away before the priest can identify him. Weeks later, attorneys Vicky Holden and Adam Lone Eagle find Dennis Carey, who operates a buffalo ranch on the reservation, shot dead in his pickup. His widow, Sheila, reveals that a white buffalo calf, considered sacred to the Plains tribes, was recently born on the ranch. As local authorities prepare for a surge of visitors, Vicky and Father John investigate rumors that several of the Careys' hired hands have disappeared. When the owner of a local employment agency who sent the missing cowboys to the Carey ranch is shot, they realize they're up against a merciless killer. Coel deftly inscribes Arapaho tradition and culture into the Western landscape, portraying both the grace and the squalor of reservation life.
Not the best of her writings
The book was shorter than previous books, which explains why it seemed to move through the story far too quickly; to an ending which seemed to simply need to be completed before the bottom of the hour when a tv show must end. Characters were not given time to be developed and explained. However, it remained an enjoyable read.