Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: Night of the White Buffalo (Wind River Reservation #18) by Margaret Coel

With her gritty mysteries steeped in authentic Native American culture, New York Times bestselling author Margaret Coel is “widely considered the most accomplished heir to Tony Hillerman’s legacy,” (Scripps Howard News Service). In the latest Wind River novel, Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden and Father John O’Malley confront a ruthless killer in the wake of a miraculous event.     

A mysterious penitent confesses to murder, and then flees the confessional before Father John can identify him. Two months later, Vicky discovers rancher Dennis Carey shot dead in his truck along Blue Sky Highway. With the tragic news comes the exposure of an astonishing secret: the most sacred creature in Native American mythology, a white buffalo calf, was recently born on Carey’s ranch.

Making national headlines, the miraculous animal draws a flood of pilgrims to the reservation, frustrating an already difficult investigation. As visitors throw the reservation into turmoil, Vicky and Father John try to unravel the strange events surrounding both Carey’s murder and the recent disappearances of three cowboys from his ranch.

It could be coincidence, given the nomadic life of the cowboy trade, but when one of them fails to appear in court to testify on an assault charge, Vicky wonders if Arnie Walkfast and his Arapaho buddies are guilty of more than just assault. And at the back of Father John’s mind is the voice from the man in the confessional: I killed a man.

A white buffalo?  Where did that idea come from? 

For me, the idea for a novel just arrives.  One day I don't know what I might write, and the next day, I have an IDEA.  It is just as Willie Nelson said when he was asked where ideas for his songs came from.  Ideas float around in the universe, according to Willie, and from time to time one of them drops into his head.  

Ideas for novels don't usually drop into my head fully blown.  They come in bits and pieces.  For years I have enjoyed visiting friends on the Wind River Reservation who run a buffalo ranch.  I've ridden a flatbed out into the pasture at feeding time, holding on for dear life as the buffalo herd pounded toward us and my friend forked off bales of hay.  I've watched a buffalo calf being born.  I've heard lots of stories about living with a buffalo herd in your pasture.  They can jump higher than deer, run like lightning, break through the toughest fences.  They are always wild - always themselves.  You can't change buffalo, modernize them, domesticate them, turn them into pets, or make them other than who they are.  There is something wonderful about that wildness that I wanted to write about.  

I had also read about the spiritual connection between the buffalo and the Plains Indians.  They see the buffalo as a gift from the Creator to sustain their lives, which was certainly the case in the Old Time when buffalo provided all of life's necessities: food, clothing, shelter, tools. (Buffalo meat is delicious!) And the birth of a white buffalo calf is considered a sign from the Creator that he has not forgotten his people, that he is still with them.  It is a momentous event that can bring pilgrims from all over and chance lives.  So bits and pieces of ideas slowly coalesced into the idea for Night of the White Buffalo.  

So I had the idea.  Then what?  I begin every novel by asking the "what if?" questions.  What if a white buffalo calf were born on the reservation?  What if this sacred animal were born on a ranch run by whites?  What if the white rancher is shot to death?  What if thousands of people come to see the white calf?  What if the reservation is turned upside-down, Arapaho against white, Arapaho against Arapaho?  What if Vicky Holden and Father John O'Malley find themselves in the midst of the chaos?  The story came from the answers to those questions.  

And in the end, I think the novel turned out to be what I had wanted it would be.  A story that revolves around the culture and spiritual beliefs of the Arapaho, but is a mystery - a twisting, surprising, page-turning one, I hope.  

Margaret Coel is the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of the acclaimed novels featuring Father John O'Malley and Vicky Holden, as well as several works of nonfiction. Originally a historian by trade, she is considered an expert on the Arapaho Indians.

The amount of knowledge and research that goes in to one of Ms. Coel's books is astounding.  She is an amazing storyteller and always has some of the most intriguing characters in her books.  The Wind River Reservation series puts the Arapaho people in focus, and delivers very powerful, strong stories through the eyes of Father John O'Malley and Vicky Holden.  

In Night of the White Buffalo, the history behind the rare creature is enough to keep you reading.  But the events that occur around the birth of this remarkable animal keeps the storyline driving and keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Page after page, Ms. Coel delivers a wonderful mystery and continues to amaze with this long running series.  

I will definitely be seeking out the next book that's in store for us!  

Rating: 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have 1 paperback copy of Night of the White Buffalo by Margaret Coel to give away to one of my lucky readers!  Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, and be sure to keep checking back for more awesome giveaways!

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