Hogs aren’t the only things that get butchered in 1915 Oklahoma.
The quail hunt ends when the skeleton is flushed. It has a bullet in its skull, cavalry boots and a snake necklace that Shaw Tucker, for reasons of his own, hides in his pocket. Later, keeping watch until the sheriff can reach this seldom-visited parcel of land owned by Shaw’s stepdaddy Peter McBride, Shaw thinks he sees someone scurrying away and hears his name whispered. Returning home to his wife Alafair and their ten children, Shaw catches and subdues Crying Blood, a teenage Creek searching for the white-haired man who killed his brother Ira. After the boy is murdered overnight, Shaw takes it upon himself to find out why and whether it’s connected to the desiccated bones from the quail hunt. His quest leads to a woman whose first husband died, whose second husband abandoned her, whose sons were scattered to foster care and an orphanage and whose former homestead, now owned by McBride, was the site of the quail hunt. Meanwhile, snakes keep appearing, those ten kids have to be fed, McBride’s prime Tennessee Walker stud is assaulted and Shaw, who has a notion who that white-haired man is, has to avoid confiding in and endangering Alafair, a task that leads him and his son Gee Dub into a fatal confrontation.
Alafair’s sixth (The Sky Took Him, 2009, etc.) will appeal to history buffs and Hillerman aficionados. The book includes sections on hog butchering, favorite old-time recipes, the history of the Indian Territory and land allotment, as well as a guide to Creek pronunciation.