Rita Ninekiller's Cherokee cousin Chris Badwater, who's been jailed for killing Sizemore County (Oklahoma) Sheriff Rowland Jordan, says he's innocent, even though the murder weapon was his own tomahawk. But that's all Chris says to Rita's journalist- turned-novelist lover Taggart Roper (A Death on 66, 1994; The Next Victim, 1993) when Roper trucks out to Redbird to see him, even after Roper (``I wasn't a detective''), courtesy of a police beating, is thrown into the same cell. So it's back to the usual routine for Roper--another fruitless scene with Jordan's wheelchair-bound widow, another attempt to locate his missing relatives, another gander at the shaky Echota Creek nuclear reactor--and eventually back to Roper's home turf of Yuchi Park, where he'll accidentally pick up the clue that sets him on the right track. Then, finally, it's time for Roper's return to Sizemore County, armed only with an ancient .380 Colt and a monster harmonica--one of which he'll be very glad he packed. Roper's third case features nicely depressive Oklahoma scenery, though the Native Americans are a bit too monotonously militant and the ending packs one twist too many.