Buffalo Jump Blues
A Montana Fly Fishing Mystery by Keith McCafferty
Review: In Madison Valley, Montana there is one issue that people are passionate about, that being the migration of the bison herds north out of their protected range in Yellowstone Park. Cattle ranchers have forced the bison back using helicopters or men on horseback, with many being shot after as soon as they crossed the border. The local Indians want the bison back on their reservations, where they once roamed freely. Local residents take positions on both sides. Now, on the Fourth of July, Hyalite County Sheriff Martha Ettinger and Deputy Sheriff Harold Little Feather have been called in to investigate a gruesome sight under the Palisades Cliffs, where a herd of bison have suspiciously fallen to their deaths, in Buffalo Jump Blues, the fifth mystery in this series by Keith McCafferty.
This scene would not have been an unusual had it occurred hundreds of year ago because back then it was an Indian ceremonial event. Today, however, believe it to be an evil undertaking of a few who wanted to rid their parcel of land of the bison (or buffalo as they are frequently called) by having "fun" reenacting this age old hunting ritual. Martha and Harold concede it could possibly have been the lights and noise from the holiday fireworks that caused the stampede, or maybe wild wolves had attacked them. The only person who might have known the truth about what actually happened was a dead Indian, who was found at the foot of the cliffs along with the bison. He bled to death not from a fall but from having had an arrow impaled in his leg.
At about the same time, off and on private detective Sean Stranahan had been hired by a Chippewa Cree woman, Ida Evening Star, to find John Running Boy, a boy she knew and loved when they were young and still in high school. Ida had left the reservation to go to school and when she came back John Running Boy was no longer there. At the Trout Tails Bar and Grill where she worked as a mermaid some evenings, she thought she saw him although she couldn't be sure as he was no longer the teenager she remembered. When she looked around again, he was gone. Sean's search surprisingly leads him right to the place where the buffalos fell.
Buffalo Jump Blues is a solidly plotted and developed mystery, filled with many historical facts about Native Americans and the vast stretches of open land in Montana and the surrounding areas. The cast of characters are approachable, likeable and believable in their respective roles. Of particular note is the relationship between Sean Stranahan and Martha Ettinger, ex-lovers who ponder whether what drove them apart may be less important than what brought them together in the first place. It's introspective and often touching. The circumstances surrounding the murder investigation itself is intriguing, seamlessly interwoven through the various subplots. A strong entry in this very entertaining series.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Buffalo Jump Blues.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided a copy of Buffalo Jump Blues for this review.
Review Copyright © 2016 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Gray Ghost Murders
Viking (Hardcover), February 2013
ISBN-13: 9780670025695; ISBN-10: 0670025690
Location(s) referenced in Buffalo Jump Blues: Montana
— ♦ —
Buffalo Jump Blues by Keith McCafferty — A Montana Fly Fishing Mystery
Publication Date: June 2016
List Price: $26.00
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites