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Posts Tagged ‘lawyer Vicky Holden’

BUFFALO BILL’S DEAD NOW by Margaret Coel: Book Review

Who am I to argue with the late, great Tony Hillerman?  He said “[Coel is] a master,” and I agree.

Buffalo Bill’s Dead Now, the latest in the Wind River series, again takes the reader to the home of the Arapaho Indians of Wyoming.  The two protagonists in the series are Vicky Holden, an Indian lawyer with a strong sense of personal responsibility to her clients, and Father John O’Malley, a Catholic priest who has served at the St. Francis mission for ten years.  As the story opens, the Arapaho Museum, located in the mission, is anticipating the arrival of priceless artifacts from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show of the 1890s.  Black Heart, chief of the Araphoes and a valued member of the show, had a beautiful collection of Indian jewelry, clothing, and headdresses, some belonging to him and some to his father, who had fought in the Battle of Little Big Horn against General George Armstrong Custer.

When the show was touring in Berlin at the end of the nineteenth century, the most valuable items in the show were either hidden by someone in the show to protect them or stolen.  At any rate, although Black Heart and the rest of Buffalo Bill’s troupe returned home, the artifacts never did.  And to this day, various families on the Wind River rez are still fighting over what happened to Black Heart’s legacy.

The memorabilia had been donated to the museum by Trevor Platt, a newcomer to the area, who approached Father John about the items.  Trevor arranged for them to be shipped from Berlin, where they were found when an old building was about to be demolished, more than one hundred years after their disappearance.  Trevor told Father John that he bought the antiques in order to return them to the heirs for display in the museum.  But during the brief time between the cartons’ arrival at the small local airport in Wyoming and their delivery to the mission’s museum the following day, the cartons had been unpacked, the items removed, and the cartons resealed.

An interesting sidelight to the main story is the divergence of views concerning the Indians who traveled with Buffalo Bill to Europe.  Some Americans, including the Secretary of Indian Affairs, thought the show celebrated the “savage” life the Indians had lived before white settlers went west to “civilize” them, and these people were instigating for the Indians to be forced to leave the show and returned to their various reservations.  Others realized that the show was the Indians’ best opportunity to earn a living and to display at least some part of their culture to the wider world.

While trying to find the missing treasures, Vicky and Father John become ever more aware of their attraction to each other, and adding fuel to that particular fire is the return of Vicky’s former law partner and lover, Adam Lone Eagle, to town.  He wants to rekindle both his romance with Vicky and their law partnership, but Vicky isn’t sure about either one.

I found it fascinating to learn about the Arapahos, both those in the present day and those who lived in the nineteenth century.  All of them came alive for me, even those who had been dead over a hundred years, thanks to the skill of Margaret Coel.

Margaret Coel has added another winning entry to the Wind River series.  You can read more about her at her web site.