Saturday, December 9, 2006

The Old Buzzard Had it Coming (Book #103)

The Old Buzzard Had it Coming (Donis Casey, 2005) is among my favorites of the books I've read this year. It's a mystery set in Eastern Oklahoma in 1912. I recognized most of the place names from visiting my in-laws in Tulsa, and the culture feels right based on what I know of Oklahoma and my own experience with the similar rural farm culture that still hung on in remnant form when I was growing up in Alabama.

Alafair Tucker, wife of a prosperous farmer, upon learning that her daughter's sweetheart and possibly her daughter could be implicated in the sweetheart's father's murder, sets out to find out what really happened. It's a page-turner and a quick read. Casey has a strong voice, and she nails the speech rhythms and dialect of her characters--I'm going to add her work to my list of recommendations for how to do accents/dialect right that I occasionally include as part of my contest judging comments. (Botched or overdone dialect is one of my judging pet peeves.)

I thought the mystery was handled well, though I don't read the genre enough to be an expert, and I consider plotting one of my weaknesses as a writer. But in this case I figured out what the key missing piece was, but was surprised by how it played out, so I feel like Casey struck the right balance of what to reveal and what to keep hidden.

There's a second book out now, also featuring a suitor for one of the Tucker girls falling under suspicion of murder. I'm looking forward to reading it, but if the pattern keeps up, I think the men of Muskogee County will start avoiding the Tucker daughters like the plague....

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