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An amateur photographer stumbles into a complex murder puzzle.

While shooting some nature studies in southwestern Colorado, attorney Hom-Astubby, a Choctaw Indian living in Oklahoma, comes upon the nude corpse of a young woman. Hom-Astubby has recently become disillusioned with the legal profession and hopes his avocation will lead to a new career. Sheriff Klewlusz treats him with more than a little suspicion, especially when the woman, who was apparently sleeping rather than dead, rouses herself and disappears. But Hom-Astubby’s sighting proves prophetic when, not long after, a young woman’s corpse is found near the original site, making Klewlusz even more suspicious. Hom-Astubby has to put aside his extensively catalogued photographic pursuits long enough to answer some unpleasant questions. While he’s hanging out at a venerable local spot called the Purple Pentagon, he learns that police are looking for glamorous Olympic skier Avalon Blanche O’Neill, wanted as a witness in a “sensitive government investigation.” Hom-Astubby eventually meets the notorious “Avalanche” (a friend of victim Linda Ruben); between spells of flirting and shop talk, they solve the case, which stems from a book the two women had been collaborating on.

This series kickoff from Western Writers of America Spur winner Birchfield (Field of Honor, 2004, etc.) subordinates mystery to landscape and the depiction of the modern West. The moseying narrative is a matter of taste.

Pub Date: May 30th, 2006
ISBN: 0-8061-3751-7
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2006