Siblings Annie and Luke Hunter along with their friends Henry Little Light and Joseph Peopeo are in attendance at the annual fall barn dance – along with the entire community of the town of Deadman’s – when the traveling preacher who offers church services every month collapses. Doc Johnson finds the man has been poisoned. But who would want to poison a traveling preacher?
Meanwhile, the community of cattle ranchers is disturbed to find out that the preacher had been encouraging a sheep-farmer and his wife to move into their area, bringing sheep to the open grazing land where they keep cattle. Is this young couple connected to the preacher’s poisoning? If not, why do they lie about their connection to events? They’re hiding something but is it related to the reverend?
Henry, wanting to avoid an inquest where he’d have to give testimony that implicates Joseph in the poisoning, decides to visit his mother. On the way he discovers a recent widow, a wagon load of tobacco leaves, and a clue in the preacher’s poisoning. At the same time, the Captain in charge of the investigation begins to suspect that not only might Joseph be involved in the poisoning, he may be a romantic rival for Annie Hunter’s affection.
Danger grows around the friends as the possibility of Joseph being charged with a crime grows. If they can’t find the real reason – and person – responsible for the preacher’s death, then justice may go badly awry, taking Joseph with it.
Collie Dog Press is proud to release our first book in the Historical, Western-Mystery, Deadman’s Series!
Siblings Annie and Luke Hunter run a cattle ranch they’ve inherited from their parents, in what is known as The Territories and will soon become the Wyoming Territories. Their father was a fur trapper who settled the land before it was officially opened to settlement. When they were young children, their father traded cattle for Nez Perce horses and along with the horses came their foster-brother, Joseph Peopeo. Joseph now raises highly prized, well trained horses on the ranch – horses which often feature the colors that will become synonymous with the Appaloosa breed.
The ranch has grown to be too much for the three of them to manage alone, so a childhood friend who has been out to the gold fields at Sutter’s Landing is ready to return home and help them. Everyone expects that along with helping to run the ranch, he’ll be asking for Annie’s hand in marriage. When the stage he’s returning on is attacked, the question becomes – did the bandits plan to rob the stage or hurt their friend? What item(s) of value did they believe to be available? Did their friend make enemies he hasn’t told them about?
The stage brings another unexpected guest who stays on to help out at the ranch.
Henry Little Light has spent his life divided among people. His mother was a slave, taken from her white owners during a Kiowa raid. She was then traded to Henry’s father, a Crow warrior. Once his father died, Henry’s mother took him to a Fort and finished raising him among the white folk there. Since the Crow are matrilineal she thought his best chance for a future was learning to read and write, then picking up a trade. She even married a freeman cabinetmaker who started training Henry. Henry seems like a nice fella, he volunteers to help, but does he have a hidden agenda? Or is he just another lost soul looking to reinvent himself in the ever changing West?
Available to order now as a paperback or e-text.