Alafair Tucker Mystery Series by Donis Casey (Books 1 – 7, 9)
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Overview: Donis Casey was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A third generation Oklahoman, she and her siblings grew up among their aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents on farms and in small towns, where they learned the love of family and independent spirit that characterizes the population of that pioneering state. Donis graduated from the University of Tulsa with a degree in English, and earned a Master’s degree in Library Science from Oklahoma University. After teaching school for a short time, she enjoyed a career as an academic librarian, working for many years at the University of Oklahoma and at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.
Donis left academia in 1988 to start a Scottish import gift shop in downtown Tempe. After more than a decade as an entrepreneur, she decided to devote herself full-time to writing. The Old Buzzard Had It Coming is her first book. For the past twenty years, Donis has lived in Tempe, AZ, with her husband.
Genre: Fiction l Mystery/Thriller
1. The Old Buzzard Had It Coming: 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!
2. Hornswoggled: Its the spring of 1913, and love is in bloom for Alice Tucker. Alice’s new beau, Walter Kelley, is handsome, popular, and wealthy. Everyone in Boynton, Oklahoma, likes him. Everyone but Alice’s mother, Alafair. She sees that Walter has a weakness for the ladies–and they for him. Moreover, Walter’s late wife Louise had been stabbed in the heart and her body disposed of in Cane Creek only a few months earlier. The murderer has not been caught.
The sheriff has cleared Walter of the deed–he has an alibi. But Alafair is not so sure that he wasn’t involved in some way. Something literally doesn’t smell right. Could it be Louise’s tormented spirit signaling clues from the other side, or is Alafair scenting a more direct link to the crime?
Even if he had nothing to do with his wife’s death, Alafair judges Walter to have been a bad husband and, with the help of her feisty mother-in-law, Sally McBride, Alafair sets out to prove to the headstrong Alice that Walter is not the paragon she thinks he is. You can bet that Alice has something to say back.
As she searches for the truth behind the death of Louise Kelley, Alafair uncovers such a tangle of lies, misdirection, and deceit that she begins to think that the whole town has been downright hornswoggled!
3. The Drop Edge of Yonder: Alafair Tucker is desperate to find out. One August evening in 1914, a bushwhacker ended a pleasant outing by blowing a hole in Bill McBride, kidnapping and ravaging Bills fiance, and wounding Alafairs daughter Mary. All Mary knows is that the crime had something to do with the Fourth of July.
4. The Sky Took Him: It’s a sad duty that brings Alafair Tucker to Enid, Oklahoma, in the fall of 1915. Her sister Ruth Ann’s husband, Lester, is not long for this world, and the family is gathering to send him to his reward. Alafair had planned to make the trip on her own with her youngest daughter Grace – so she is surprised and gratified when her eldest daughter Martha volunteers to come along and care for Grace, freeing Alafair to comfort the soon-to-be-bereaved.
But her niece’s irresponsible husband, Kenneth, has disappeared at a most inconvenient time. When it comes to light that Kenneth has been involved in some shady dealing with Buck Collins – the most ruthless businessman in town – everyone is convinced that Collins has done him in. In fact, no other possibility is considered, not by the family or by the local lawmen. But Alafair suspects that things are not so simple.
Over the next few days, Alafair and Martha come face-to-face with blackmail, intimidation, murder, and family secrets that stretch back over twenty years. And in the process, they discover things about each other that will change their relationship forever.
5. Crying Blood: In the autumn of 1915, Shaw Tucker, his brother James, and their sons, go on a hunting trip to the derelict farm his stepfather had bought years before. Instead of a quail, Shaw s dog, Buttercup, retrieves an old boot with the bones of a foot inside. Buttercup then leads the men to a shallow grave and a skeleton with a bullet hole in the skull. That night, Shaw awakens to see a pair of moccasin-clad legs strolling by his tent flap. He chases the intruder, who has disappeared so completely that Shaw wonders if he imagined it. Had he also imagined the ghostly voice that called his name? After he returns home, Shaw can t shake the memory of the disembodied legs and the ghostly voice. His concern is justified when he realizes that someone or something has followed him home. His dread turns to relief when he captures a young Creek Indian boy who says he is Crying Blood. The boy had followed Shaw, hoping to find a white haired man who killed his brother. Shaw ties the boy up in the barn, but during the few minutes he is left alone, someone thrusts a spear through Crying Blood s heart. Who murdered a boy right under Shaw s nose? The law is on the killer s trail, but Shaw Tucker has a hunch about the identity of the white-haired man who called his name. Only Shaw s wife, Alafair, might be able to forestall his dangerous plan. So when the opportunity arises, Shaw sends her on a wild goose chase. As soon as she is out of the way, he sets out to confront the killer."
6. Wrong Hill to Die On: Nineteen-sixteen was not shaping up to be a good year for Alafair Tucker, and finding Bernie Arruda dead in a ditch wasn’t going to help matters.
She had not wanted to come to Arizona in the first place. But her daughter Blanche was suffering from a stubborn ailment of the lungs, and her best chance for a cure was dry desert air. So Alafair and her husband Shaw had bundled their sick child onto the train and made the nightmare trip from Oklahoma to Alafair’s sister in Tempe, Arizona.
Yet as soon as they arrived on that bright March day, Blanche began to improve.
But Alafair and Shaw soon discover that all is not well in sunny Arizona. Elizabeth’s marriage is in tatters, tensions are high between the Anglo and Latino communities following Pancho Villa’s murderous raid on Columbus, New Mexico, and Alafair suspects her sister is involved in an illegal operation to smuggle war refugees out of Mexico and into the U.S.
And now here lies Bernie Arruda on his back in a ditch, staring into eternity.
9. The Return of the Raven Mocker: World War I is raging in Europe, but as the deadly influenza pandemic of 1918 sweeps like a wildfire through Boynton, Oklahoma, Alafair Tucker is fighting her own war. Her daughter, Alice, and son-in-law, Walter Kelley, have both come down with the flu, and Alafair has moved into town to care for them after quarantining her young children at their sister s farm. Boynton as a whole isolates itself like an old English plague village, discouraging anyone from coming into town and the residents from traveling outside. A new doctor applies science to treating the stricken, but Alafair applies all she knows about hygiene, nutrition, and old and trusted country remedies. Unable to aid her sons and sons-inlaw fighting overseas, this is danger she can combat. One autumn afternoon, screams coming from next door alert Alafair that Alice s neighbor, Nola Thomason, and her son Lewis have suddenly and unexpectedly succumbed. Yet there is something about the way the pair died that causes Alafair to suspect their deaths were due to poison rather than to influenza. The epidemic is so overwhelming that it is many days before the only doctor left in town can confirm Alafair s suspicions; neither Nola nor Lewis died of the flu. The only witness to their deaths, twelve-year-old Dorothy Thomason, a special friend of Alafair s daughter, Sophronia, is so traumatized that she is rendered mute. Were Nola and her son murdered, and if so, why? The usual motives for murder are greed, or jealousy, or hatred. Or could it be, as Alafair fears, that the Raven Mocker, the most dreaded of the Cherokee wizards or witches, the evil spirit who takes to the air in a fiery shape to rob the old, the sick, and the dying of their lives, is hunting victims and bringing misery to the innocent?"
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