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Killing Custer: A Wind River Mystery    by Margaret Coel order for
Killing Custer
by Margaret Coel
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2014 (2013)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Tony Hillerman called author Margaret Coel a master. And with Killing Custer, in my mind, he is proved right. Coel writes the Wind River series, featuring Father John O'Malley who tends to his flock on the Arapaho Indian Reservation. Co-star Vicky Holden is an Arapaho lawyer who must choose between her heritage and the whites who live on the other side of the Reservation line.

The whole town of Lander has turned out either to be in a parade or to view one. A group of men on horses dressed as General George Armstrong Custer and his cavalry become a part of the parade. They are not greeted warmly when it is remembered that Custer had ordered the massacre of many of the Reservation's ancestors. When the man impersonating Custer is shot down during a circle ride by Arapahoes, it is remembered that Custer was indeed killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn by Arapahoes. Justice. A little too late, but justice nevertheless.

Whether deserved or not, the killing was murder and must be resolved. The man impersonating Custer had given a lecture on Custer's treatment of the Indians and animosity had run rampant on the Reservation. Dumb move on his part. A woman impersonating Custer's wife turns up demanding to know where her husband's money was. A businessman in Lander disappears with a ton of money and it is believed he has been abducted. Two Arapahoes are being sought as the killers of the Custer impersonator.

Killing Custer slowly grabs your attention and won't let go. When things seem to calm down just a bit, it takes a sudden turn and pulls you right back in. The tightly written plot more than touches on the manner in which the American Indians were treated in an attempt to eradicate them. Our ancestors should have hung their heads in shame. A very good book. Hillerman was right. Coel is a master.

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