Oklahoma's Mitch Bushyhead, chief of police in Buckskin (Night Walker, etc.), is determined to find the killer of little Tamarah Birch, a third-grader at the area's tribal boarding school, whose body was found--strangled but not molested--in woods edging the school grounds. A prime suspect is Dwayne Burns, just released from confinement after an indecent exposure conviction, but Mitch has reasons for concentrating on the school's staff--from pompous principal Porter Qualls to janitor Haines, a reader of porn mags. In between are 60-ish counselor Lyman Shoemaker, teacher Ellis Harlan, his obviously troubled teenaged daughter Kendall, and others. The disappearance of Kendall and Tamarah's classmate Ruthann Blackfox adds to the pressure on Mitch and his small force- -but, in the end, the crucial break comes in a clue from Tamarah's own hand. Slow pacing that picks up midway--in a solidly plotted story with tribal love trimmings and well-defined characters. Hager's most engrossing effort to date.