Buffalo Bill's Defunct (9781564747112)

Critical Praise for the mysteries of Sheila Simonson

“Lively and appealing first mystery…a promising debut, deftly juggling a cozy modern suspense story with an up-to-date romance.”


Publishers Weekly
on
Larkspur

“A second adventure for California bookdealer Lark Dodge… Always literate, intriguing… add a plus for readers planning a trip to London and environs.”


Kirkus Reviews
on
Skylark

“Sharp characterization—particularly of the marvelously wry Lark—and a mystery that is skillfully intertwined with Lark and Jay’s life as they try to start a family grip the reader’s interest up to a resolution that puts an intriguing twist on the standard sleuth-in-danger finale.”


Publishers Weekly
on
Mudlark

“The delight of the Lark Dodge series is that you can read them as satires or as straightforward murder mysteries. But you should read them.”


The Oregonian
on
Meadowlark

“A deceptively stately pace, accompanied by interesting subplots and vivid jaunts in the country.”


Library Journal
on
Malarkey

Also by Sheila Simonson:

T
HE
L
ARK
D
ODGE
S
ERIES

Larkspur

Skylark

Mudlark

Meadowlark

Malarkey

Buffalo Bill’s
Defunct

A LATOUCHE COUNTY MYSTERY

2008 / P
ERSEVERANCE
P
RESS
/ J
OHN
D
ANIEL &
C
OMPANY
P
ALO
A
LTO
/ M
CKINLEYVILLE
, C
ALIFORNIA

This is a work of fiction. Characters, places, and events are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real people, companies, institutions, organizations, or incidents is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2008 by Sheila Simonson

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

A Perseverance Press Book

Published by John Daniel   Company

A division of Daniel   Daniel, Publishers, Inc.

Post Office Box 2790

McKinleyville, California 95519

www.danielpublishing.com/perseverance

Distributed by SCB Distributors (800) 729-6423

Book design by Eric Larson, Studio E Books, Santa Barbara,
www.studio-e-books.com

Cover image: Monotype by Lillian Pitt, from the “Ancestors” series. Collaborative Master Printer: Frank Janzen, TMP. Printed at Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, Pendleton, Oregon. Photographed by Studio 421, Pendleton, Oregon.

“Buffalo Bill’s”. Copyright 1923,1951, © 1991 by the Trustees for the E.E. Cummings Trust. Copyright © 1976 by George James Firmage, from COMPLETE POEMS: 1904-1962 by E.E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA

Simonson, Sheila, (date)

  Buffalo Bill’s defunct : a Latouche County mystery / by Sheila Simonson.

    p. cm.

ISBN-13: 978-1-880284-96-4 (pbk. : alk. paper)

ISBN-10:1-880284-96-0 (pbk. : alk. paper)

1. Indians of North America—Fiction. 2. Sheriffs—Fiction. 3. Librarians—Fiction. 4. Petroglyphs—Fiction. 5. Columbia River Gorge (Or. and Wash.)—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3569.I48766B84 2008

813’.54—dc22

     2008000709

My thanks to Meredith Phillips,
the kind of editor writers dream of.

This book is for my sweet husband, Mickey,
who is very very patient.

AUTHOR’S NOTE

It would be foolish to insist that the Columbia River Gorge is fictional. It is spectacularly real, a National Scenic Area that adjoins two National Forests, with Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens on the north in Washington State, and Mount Hood on the south in Oregon. On the north side, it is sparsely populated.

For the purposes of the story, I rearranged the scenery and political geography of the western end of the Gorge, subtracting Ska-mania and part of Klickitat counties from Washington and combining them into fictional Latouche County. Latouche County does not exist outside my imagination. There is no Tyee Lake. Klalo, the county seat, resembles at least four small towns in western Washington, but is its own imaginary place. I hope there are real toads in it.

I changed the demography of the local tribes as well as the geography, though I tried to make the ethnic variation plausible. The Klalo tribe is Chinookian in language and in some of its customs, but it is as much a product of my imagination as Latouche County. Its principal chief, Madeline Thomas, doesn’t exist, but I wish she did.

Buffalo Bill’s Defunct
takes place in October 2004.

Buffalo Bill’s

  defunct

        who used to

        ride a watersmooth-silver

            stallion

and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat

                        Jesus

he was a handsome man

      and what i want to know is

how do you like your blueeyed boy

Mister Death


e.e. cummings

T
HE twenty-five-foot moving van shifted down. Meg McLean clenched her hands on its steering wheel. She kept her foot on the accelerator and her eyes on the double center line. No passing? No kidding.

To her left, a parade of cars sped toward her in the oncoming lane of the narrow highway. To her right, past the graveled shoulder, the scenery dropped two hundred feet straight down to the Columbia River.

Meg was driving Washington State Highway 14 east from Vancouver, the last stretch of a long haul from Southern California. Ahead of her, a logging truck laden with splintery cedars wound upward. Behind her, a bronze Lexus hung just far enough back to be visible in the van’s side-view mirrors. The Lexus had its lights on “bright.” The driver had been looking for a chance to pass for five miles.

The van held all of Meg’s possessions, forty-two years’ worth, with her ‘97 Honda Accord clamped to the tow-bar. The truck’s maximum speed was an unwise sixty-five downhill. On long upward grades like this one, the speedometer hovered at thirty-five, dropped, then surged a bit as the truck shifted down again. The drivers behind her were entitled to impatience. She hoped one of them wouldn’t shoot her. She hoped her daughter wouldn’t phone. Lucy had called every day of the trip at precisely three o’clock. It was one minute to three.

The truck’s CD player held only one disc at a time. It was recycling George Gershwin’s piano-roll pieces. Meg had listened to all of them twice but she didn’t dare take her right hand off the wheel long enough to change discs.

The honky-tonk accompaniment made her feel like a character in a silent film who was being victimized by technology—Harold Lloyd on a girder. She glanced right and drew a shaky breath. The river glinted in the afternoon sun, now three hundred feet down.

The highway twisted into a stretch of evergreen forest splotched with the intense yellow of maple leaves on the verge of falling. Falling down. Down.

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