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 Police Chief Mitch Bushyhead of Buckskin, Oklahoma, has another murder on his hands (Ghostland, 1992, etc.). Tyler Hatch, director of the Cherokee Nation's Job Corps Center, is found dead in his car in the woods, after smashing a window in the family clinic where his battered wife Jessie had taken refuge. Hatch's image as a dedicated man able to turn around the lives of miscreants and drug addicts cuts no ice with clinic head Dr. Rhea Vann. She's seen a terrorized Jessie too often and knows too about Hatch's womanizing--often with his young charges. Meanwhile, Mitch has some other problems: the escape from prison of Jessie's brother, Henderson Sixkiller, undoubtedly on the loose in the area; a series of late-night robberies of costly horse tackle from local ranchers; and reports of a mysterious light in the woods, seen by some as a return of the evil spirit Fire Carrier. The chief's life as a widower isn't too happy, either, with lover Lisa Macpherson getting her Ph.D. in California and only sporadically returning his calls. Mitch puts a lot of suspects through a lot of dull questioning, trying to pin down the source of the four blows that killed Hatch and seeking motives strong enough to lead to murder. The solution is as flat as most of this labored effort, despite a lengthy exploration of the Cherokee stomp-dance and a last-minute twist that attempts to work up some excitement. Too little, too late. Not one of Hager's better efforts. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 15th, 1996
ISBN: 0-89296-566-5
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996


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