This is my favorite series by Jean Hager. Unfortunately, there are only 3 or 4 books featuring half Cherokee Police Chief Mitch Bushyhead, solving the crimes of Buckskin, OK, while raising a daughter on his own.
Oklahoma's Mitch Bushyhead, chief of police in Buckskin (Night Walker, etc.), is determined to find the killer of little Tamarah Birch, a third-grader at the area's tribal boarding school, whose body was found--strangled but not molested--in woods edging the school grounds. A prime suspect is Dwayne Burns, just released from confinement after an indecent exposure conviction, but Mitch has reasons for concentrating on the school's staff--from pompous principal Porter Qualls to janitor Haines, a reader of porn mags. In between are 60-ish counselor Lyman Shoemaker, teacher Ellis Harlan, his obviously troubled teenaged daughter Kendall, and others. The disappearance of Kendall and Tamarah's classmate Ruthann Blackfox adds to the pressure on Mitch and his small force- -but, in the end, the crucial break comes in a clue from Tamarah's own hand. Slow pacing that picks up midway--in a solidly plotted story with tribal love trimmings and well-defined characters. Hager's most engrossing effort to date.
I had some trouble getting into this book, but once quirky characters were introduced I finished the book quickly. The cover makes a big deal about comparing this to a Hillerman book, and although it has Indians in it, it is nothing like a Hillerman book. I don't mean that as a critisism, I really enjoyed the chief of police and his difficulties, and I was very suprised at the secret, a problem that doesn't get mentioned much in modern stories, but was a big deal in antiquity.
The Cherokee Heritage Festival is about to begin and Buckskin Oklahoma is bustling until the murder of Tamaran Birch. A wonderful read