Review

Buffalo Bill's Dead Now: A Wind River Mystery

by Margaret Coel

Jesuit priest Father John O’Malley is a recovering alcoholic from Boston who loves opera and is dedicated to serving his parishioners at the St. Francis Mission on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Vicky Holden is an Arapaho attorney who has returned to the reservation to represent Native American clients, most of them pro bono. Holden is divorced from an alcoholic ex-husband and is estranged from attorney Adam Lone Eagle, a top-notch natural resources attorney who represents Indian tribes. Like Father John, Vicky is trying to put the past behind her by throwing herself into her work. Both share a deep respect and love for the people they serve.

When regalia once worn by Chief Black Heart in Buffalo Bill's Wild West are hijacked on their journey to the Arapaho Museum, Father John and Vicky get involved. The relics have been donated to the museum by Trevor Pratt, a client of Vicky’s and an artifacts collector and dealer, who has purchased them from a source in Berlin, Germany.

"BUFFALO BILL’S DEAD NOW is a novel of murder, love, greed, redemption and respect for one’s heritage --- and a tribute to Coel’s legacy as a talented mystery writer and a skillful storyteller."

Black Heart’s artifacts have a fascinating history. The chief’s belongings disappeared in Europe in 1890 under mysterious circumstances. Pratt has tracked them down, purchased them, and is having them returned to Chief Black Heart’s people. The headdress, breastplate, vest, moccasins and cuffs left Berlin and have disappeared before reaching their destination in Wyoming.

After witnessing Pratt’s reaction to the news of the hijacking, Father John and Vicky suspect that he knows more than he's telling. On their drive to Pratt’s ranch to question him, they are run off the road by a speeding car. After they arrive at Pratt’s home, they find him murdered.Woven into the murder and the mysterious disappearance of the artifacts is an age-old feud between two Arapaho families tied to the original theft of Black Heart’s regalia. In revealing the history behind the missing Arapaho artifacts, the scenes shift from present life on the Wind River Reservation to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in Berlin in 1890, where William Cody (Buffalo Bill) and Chief Black Heart performed to adoring crowds. 

Back on the reservation, the mystery of Pratt’s murder unfolds. The truth about his past comes to light, and a kidnapping heightens the suspense.

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Margaret Coel’s rich details about the Native American culture and history, her portrayal of the American West, and the underlying tension between Vicky and Father John make BUFFALO BILL’S DEAD NOW a compelling read. Coel’s careful attention to detail shines throughout the novel, with one minute exception: a non-critical detail regarding the background of a minor character, who, in one chapter is from Kansas City; in another, St. Louis. This inconsistency caused this Missouri reader to briefly lose focus on the story.

The main attraction to Coel’s Wind River mysteries is the respectful and loving way she portrays the Native American culture, her characters and the situations that confront them. BUFFALO BILL’S DEAD NOW is a novel of murder, love, greed, redemption and respect for one’s heritage --- and a tribute to Coel’s legacy as a talented mystery writer and a skillful storyteller.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on September 21, 2012

Buffalo Bill's Dead Now: A Wind River Mystery
by Margaret Coel

  • Publication Date: September 3, 2013
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0425252256
  • ISBN-13: 9780425252253