KILLING CUSTER:
A Wind River Mystery


By Margaret Coel

Berkley Prime Crime, September 2013 ($26.95)
ISBN-13: 978-0-425-26463-8

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Colonel Edward Garrett doesn't just portray George Armstrong Custer in reenactments, he channels the colorful and doomed general so closely it's difficult to tell where the modern man ends and the historical character begins. Is it a good idea for him and his modern-day Seventh Cavalry to come to Wind River to recreate a battle whose tragic echoes are still fresh in the minds of the Arapaho whose ancestors were slaughtered? No, and the modern-day Arapaho warriors show their displeasure in the traditional way during the rodeo parade in Lander. Their intent is to harass and shame the general and his troops, but when the smoke clears, Custer is dead — again.

Not surprisingly, the main suspects are the two Arapaho from the Wind River Reservation who led the "dare raid," and the police don't feel the need to look for other possibilities. Father John O'Malley knows the young men, and believes in their innocence, but he faces an uphill battle to clear their name. Attorney Vicki can't help them because she has taken on a case for Garrett's widow, a woman who seems as delusional as her late husband.

A prominent attorney disappears under suspicious circumstances, and a young woman is murdered. Once again, the Arapaho men are the main suspects, but Father John and Vicky can see there is much more going on. Working separately for the most part, they fight for the same cause, justice for the innocent.

This is another winner in the Wind River series, with believable, sympathetic characters, a masterful blending of historic and modern-day elements of the Native American story in this beautiful part of the country, lyrical writing, and a fine mystery. I highly recommend this book, and this series.

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