by Dean L. Hovey
When human remains are found at the Vore Buffalo Jump, the short-staffed local sheriff’s department requests assistance from Park Service Investigators Doug and Jill Fletcher.
ATV tracks lead the investigators to the victim’s boots and a hunting blind constructed on the edge of the Black Hills National Forest. With more questions than answers the Fletchers find themselves pulled into the community dynamics of tiny Aladdin (population 15) where the café and general store are the hub of information for the county.
The surprising identification of the victim only opens more questions about him, and his connection to the location of his murder. When the Fletchers follow up on the few leads provided by John Doe’s identification, they unwittingly open a can of worms.
Enjoy an Excerpt:
“I don’t know if you remember me, but this is Hank Stoddard. I’m the Crook County sheriff, in Wyoming.”
“I remember you, Sheriff. Have you had any shootouts lately?”
After a chuckle, Stoddard replied, “Well, we haven’t had to shoot anyone, but a body was found on a National Park Service site. I was wondering if you happened to be in the neighborhood and would be willing to take a look at it.”
“I’m in Texas right now. But you’ve intrigued me. Did you have another person fall at Devils Tower?”
“A volunteer found a body in Vore Buffalo Jump when they were cleaning up for the tourist season opening.”
I searched the recesses of my mind and vaguely remembered seeing a sign for the historic site but couldn’t recall the location. “Where is the buffalo jump?”
“It’s just west of Beulah, within sight of I-90.”
“That’s just across the border from South Dakota, right?”
“That would be the spot. I was hoping you were visiting your South Dakota in-laws and might be willing to take a peek at the mess that was once a person.”
“Let me make a couple of calls, Sheriff. We may need to make an unexpected trip to Spearfish.”
“I’d be mighty appreciative if you could make that happen. This death is strange. The coroner and I have stewed over this a lot. It appears the victim was dragged across the prairie like a horse thief, then dumped at the buffalo jump site at some point over the winter.”
“Dragged like a horse thief?”
“Dragging a horse thief across the prairie was called western justice.”
About the Author:
Dean Hovey is a Minnesota-based author with three mystery series. He lives with his wife south of Duluth.
Dean’s award-winning* Pine County series follows sheriff’s deputies Floyd Swenson and Pam Ryan through this police procedural series.
Dean’s Whistling Pines books are humorous cozy mysteries centered on the residents of the Whistling Pines senior residence. The protagonist is Peter Rogers, the Whistling Pines recreation director.
In Dean’s latest series his protagonist, a retired Minnesota policeman, is drafted into service as a National Park Service Investigator after a murder at a National Monument.
Q&A With the Author
What was your inspiration for this book? I’m constantly on the lookout for interesting US Park Service locations where I can set a book. I saw the Vore Buffalo Jump National Historic Site while driving across eastern Wyoming. A visit to the site, with a guided tour from the site director, provided great perspective and also provided the kind of technical, and in this case, archaeological bits to sale into the story. Driving farter north from there, we visited the town of Aladdin, Wyoming. It’s almost a ghost town, now consisting of the Aladdin General Store, a café, and a motel. Seeing this location, and meeting some of the local people told me I’d found the perfect setting for a mystery.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Beyond researching the location, I love putting my protagonists, Doug and Jill Fletcher, back in the Black Hills. Jill’s family ranch is an hour east of the site, and inserting the family dynamics of their family members into a mystery provides a nice break from the intensity of the plot. I really enjoy writing the banter between Jill, Doug, and their parents. (Jill’s parents were initially unhappy that she’s married a divorced “city kid” but have accepted Doug over the course of fourteen Fletcher mysteries.) Their humorous interactions provide a nice counterbalance to the dark plot.
Do you have any other books in the works? I write daily, so I always have something in the works! “Conflict of Interest” the 14th of my Pine County mysteries, will be released in May. The Pine County Sheriff’s department is called in to a neighboring county’s investigation when it’s discovered that the victim is the girlfriend of a county official. Next fall, Jill and Doug Fletcher will be back in “Strung Out to Die”, investigating the death of a Park Service Ranger in Manzanar National Historic Site. Manzanar was the site of a Japanese American Internment Camp during WW2. The Fletchers get involved when the local sheriff’s department becomes fixated on investigating the flow of Mexican drugs on the highway past the site, ignoring community issues and the social friction between the Manzanar rangers.
* “Family Trees: A Pine County Mystery” won the 2018 NEMBA award for best fiction.
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/author/B00J78JMLY/about
Dean L. Hovey will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.