(Image from Barnes & Noble)
One of the things I love most about reading book blogs is discovering new books that I wouldn't have picked up without a strong recommendation from a trusted blogger. Kay over at Kay's Reading Life is my go-to source for mysteries/thrillers; she never steers me wrong. Recently, she recommended the Alafair Tucker series by local author Donis Casey. Granted, I might have given the first installment, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, a look based on its title alone. The unappealing cover art, however, would have been a big turn-off for me. I trust Kay, though, so I gave this one a go. And you know what? I loved it.
Set during the early 1900s, the series features Alafair Tucker, a hard-working farmer's wife living in rural Oklahoma. As the mother of nine children, she has her hands full with family, chores, and helping her neighbors when she can. The Old Buzzard Had It Coming revolves around the Days, who live on the neglected farm next door. Harley Day is a selfish alcoholic reprobate, his wife a beaten-down mouse who scurries to do her husband's bidding before he beats her. Perpetually starving and dressed in rags, the couple's eight children are a fearful, wary lot. When Harley Day is discovered dead in a snowdrift no one is surprised. Or mournful. It's generally agreed that, whatever happened to him, he deserved it.
It's assumed that Harley died of exposure until Alafair notices something suspicious: a bullet wound in the dead man's neck. Plenty of people had reason to kill Harley Day, but who actually did the dirty deed? With a plethora of suspects, Alafair can't help herself from wondering about the murderer's identity. The most likely person is not-so-secretly dating her daughter. Alafair doesn't want it to be kindhearted John Lee Day; to clear his name, she'll have to help the sheriff (who just so happens to be her brother-in-law) find the real killer. Even if it means putting herself in grave danger. Which it most assuredly will.
At just over 200 pages, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming is a short, enjoyable mystery that's clean, atmospheric, and fun. Alafair makes a perfect heroine—not only is she smart, capable, and compassionate, but she's also fiercely devoted to her husband and children. A practical, down-to-Earth woman, she's easy to like, simple to cheer on. While I did identify the murderer before Alafair did, it took me awhile. All in all, then, I loved this first installment in what promises to be an entertaining series. Less than halfway through The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, I put the next two Alafair Tucker books on hold at the library. That right there should tell you how much I enjoyed it!
(Readalikes: Other books in the Alafair Tucker series [Hornswoggled; The Drop Edge of Yonder; The Sky Took Him; Crying Blood; The Wrong Hill to Die On; Hell With the Lid Blown Off; All Men Fear Me; and The Return of the Raven Mocker] by Donis Casey)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for violence and brief, mild language (no F-bombs)
To the FTC, with love: Another library