"The Eagle Catcher" is a stunning debut that made me want to read all the novels in Margaret Coel's mystery series set among the Arapahos on Wyoming's Wind River Reservation.
Father John O'Malley, head of the reservation's Jesuit mission, discovers his friend, tribal chairman Harvey Castle, stabbed to death in his tipi. The evidence points to Harvey's nephew, Anthony, as the killer, but Father John does not believe the young man capable of murder. He joins forces with Vicky Holden, an Arapaho attorney, to clear Anthony's name.
Before long, they find some answers in the tragic past of the Arapaho people, who, defeated and driven from their homes, arrived at the reservation only to be preyed upon by opportunistic white settlers. While writing an Arapaho history, Harvey Castle stumbled on evidence of an old crime so heinous, someone would kill to keep it hidden.
The mystery is compelling and the resolution satisfying, but what really makes this novel shine is its wonderful characters, depiction of Arapaho life and well-drawn Wyoming setting.
This is an interesting, well writen view of the Arapaho people with many interesting bits of information about the native American life today as well as centuries ago. The writer weaves many twists and turns into the story to keep your attention. it is a hard book to put down.
If you're like me and enjoy mysteries that are permeated with Native American culture and history, put Margaret Coel's Wind River mysteries on your reading list. This first book in the series is a strong blend of well-plotted mystery, a setting that should be listed in the cast of characters, Arapaho culture and history, and two strong, interesting leads in Father John O'Malley and Arapaho lawyer Vicky Holden.
"In the distance, the brown humps of the Wind River Mountains rode against the sky like a herd of giant buffalo."
The high plains setting of the Wind River Reservation plays an important role in the book, especially if you keep in mind the fact that Father John and Vicky are a thirty to forty-five minute drive from anywhere. It's remote, it's beautiful, and its weather can turn on a dime.
Father John O'Malley taught history in Jesuit prep schools back East until his drinking spiraled out of control and he was sent in disgrace from Boston to the Wind River Reservation. To his surprise, he fell in love with the landscape and with the Arapaho people. Vicky Holden was the wife of a drunk and abusive man. She divorced him and took the long lonely road to law school. Vicky is much more prickly than Father John, but both are strong, intelligent, and just the kind of characters to sustain a long series.
I was swept up by the story very quickly, and I appreciated how Coel skillfully wove present-day Arapaho issues into the narrative. Although I did identify one of the villains of the piece very early on, the killer came as a total surprise. The reveal should not have been so amazing, however, because there were clues all along the trail-- proof of how the story made me put aside my deductive skills.
If there was anything I didn't like about the book, it was the fact that the story was over much too soon and left me with a craving for more-- in particular, more of Vicky Holden. Father John received the lion's share of the attention in this book, and Vicky is such a fascinating character that I'm dying to learn more about her.
Good mystery, evocative setting, Native American culture and history, and two characters with whom I need to become better acquainted. I'm definitely returning to Wind River!
Mystery set on the Arapaho Wind River Reservation. Lead characters Father John O'Malley (Jesuit priest assigned to a mission near the reservation) and Vicky Holden, an Arapaho attorney, continue through the series; their friendship and working relationship is intriguing. The series was highly recommended by Tony Hillerman and Earlene Fowler, which persuaded me to try it. I will soon read a more recent book in the series to see if I like the way the author's writing, characters, and setting have developed. Based on just this first book, I can't strongly recommend it.
A Father John O'Malley/Vicky Holden mystery - Margaret Coel writes an engrossing murder mystery and at the same time teaches about Arapaho history and customs. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
From the bookcover: "On the windswept plains of Wyoming's Wind River Reservation, Arapahos have gathered for the Ethete powwow. It is a sacred time to reaffirm the balance and harmony in life. But these feelings of unity quickly give way to fear when tribal chairman Harvey Castle is found murdered in his tipi - and the eveidence points to his own nephew's guilt. Father John O'Malley, head pastor of the nearby St. Francis Mission, does not believe the young man is a killer. In his quest for the truth, O'Malley gets a rare glimpse into the Arapho life few outsiders ever see - and into a crime fewer could imagine..."
As a fan of Tony Hillerman and his Navajo mysteries, I thought I would never find another writer of his level who would write Native American mysteries. Now I've discovered Margaret Coel and her Father John O'Malley series. I'm working my way through her works and, to my surprise, I like her work just as much as Hillerman. The series takes place on the Wyoming Wind River Reservation and it gives me a historical view of the Arapaho Nation. These are books that I can't put down, even if I know "who done it". If you like Hillerman, you'll like Coel.
This series is dynamite. Intruding on the world between white man and Indian, murder finds its way and leaves Father John O'Malley head paster of the mission church and Vicky Holden, the "Indian Lawyer Lady" to root out the killer.
A pretty good start to a long series. Im very behind. I liked the setting and some of the characters but at the same time, I felt the book lacked description. The character development was not very good. I was not invested in any of the characters when the end of the book came that would enable me to rush and grab book 2.
I may or may not continue on. The only thing I would hope for is more Indian situations as opposed to the white people.