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The Old Buzzard Had It Coming : An Alafair Tucker Mystery
One winter evening in 1912, in the woods outside of Boynton, Oklahoma, abusive and drunken Harley Day surprises his son John Lee and the neighbor girl Phoebe Tucker in a lovers' tryst. An hour later, when John Lee walks his beloved home, Phoebe's mother, Alafair Tucker, suspects that something is amiss. How could she know her daughter has been involved in a violent confrontation that will make Phoebe and her beau murder suspects?
At supper that evening, over bowls of soupy beans and buttery cornbread, Alafair, her husband Shaw, and their nine lively children, much amused that Phoebe has a boyfriend, discuss the unfortunate Day family. The Days are tormented by their evil father, who beats his wife, mistreats his children, and wastes their money. The mother is helpless, and the eldest daughter, Maggie Ellen, has run away, leaving only 19-year-old John Lee and his 13-year-old sister Naomi to care for the younger children and keep the family from destitution.
Then... well, the old buzzard had it coming!
This Best Unpublished Mystery of 2004 (The Oklahoma Writers' Federation, Inc.) is the first in a new series.
Life on the Oklahoma frontier in 1912 was anything but easy, yet Casey's sweet-tempered debut manages to make readers nostalgic for simpler times. Running a successful farm is hard work, and on the Tucker farm everyone in the family has a job to do, under the proud watchful eyes of father Shaw and mother Alafair. So when the town bully is found dead in the snow and one of the Tucker girls might be involved in the murder, Alafair pours all her considerable energy into uncovering the truth. Of course, she'll eventually find it, for this mother of nine living children (two died young) "know[s] everything all the time." And that's the essential flaw in this otherwise admirable work--no surprises. The regular up-and-down cycles of the plot don't allow the tension to build beyond a certain point. New developments often occur offstage and the same details are rehashed too many times around too many kitchen tables. In every other respect, though, the appealingly homey world Casey creates rings true. With so much going for her, readers will be right pleased to see a sequel. (July 1)
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Poisoned Pen Press
August 31, 2006
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