Poisoned Pen Press, Feb 2003, 24.95, 276 pp.
Early one morning, Sheriff English of Buffalo Springs in Benteen County, Kansas is called to the local nursing home because one of its residents Tommie Frons is missing. It turns out that Tommie died in the middle of the night and Mad Dog, a born again Cheyenne (and the sheriff's half-brother), spirited him away with the help of some of the residents of the home. The dead man wanted a Choctaw burial and Mad Dog is determined to honor his wishes.
Once that is cleared up, another person reports that a resident has a dead baby in her room. The Sheriff finds a stillborn in the room, but has no idea of the identity of the mother. In the meantime, Tommie's relatives are looking for his ring and they are using very physical methods of persuasion to find it. The Sheriff's daughters are being held at the Irons/ Hornbaker farm where they find a woman caged in her bedroom. Mad Dog finds a small skull, some adult bones, and a faded ID for a living county supervisor. All these events tie together but unless the sheriff can find the common denominator, the puzzle will never be solved.
PRAIRIE GOTHIC occurs in less than twenty-four hours, which is why the action is plentiful and fast-paced. The story also takes place during one of the worst winter storms of the year, which enhances the gothic feel to the whole tale. Anyone who enjoys an off beat, left of center mystery starring eccentric characters who behave in an unusual fashion will want to read J.M. Hayes sequel to MAD DOG AND ENGLISHMEN.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner