The Wrong Hill To Die On is the 6th book in Donis Casey's mystery series featuring Alafair Tucker. I love this series and can't think why it took me so long to get back to it. Happily, the next book is already available and I have it on my Kindle. It's entitled Hell With The Lid Blown Off. Don't you love the titles? This series is set in the early 20th century and the titles oftentimes reflect expressions used by people at that time.
Alafair and Shaw Tucker live in Boynton, Oklahoma on a big farm, surrounded by friendly neighbors and lots of family. They have 10 children and life is incredibly busy. In The Wrong Hill To Die On, the year is 1916 and Oklahoma and other states in the Midwest have just experienced a winter with huge amounts of rain. Alafair has spent most of that winter tending to one or another of her family members who were sick with respiratory ailments. Blanche, their 10-year-old, has not been able to recover well from her sickness and the doctor advises Alafair and Shaw to take her to a warmer, drier climate for a while. Luckily, Alafair's younger sister, Elizabeth, lives with her husband and son in Tempe, Arizona. The Tuckers pack up Blanche, leave their farm and younger children in the capable hands of their older kids and spouses, and set out to travel by train to Arizona.
Of course, Alafair, being Alafair, stumbles over the body of Bernie Arruda, dead in a ditch, soon after they arrive. Arizona is a really good place for Blanche to recover and heal, and it's a new environment with all kinds of goings-on for the Tuckers to experience. There's a motion picture, a flicker, being filmed in Tempe and movie people to meet. There is news that Pancho Villa has crossed the US border and attacked a settlement in New Mexico, soon after the Tuckers travelled through that area on their trip. There are issues of race, women's rights, and, oh yes, a murderer to catch. The US Marshal is named Joe Dillon (kin to Matt do you suppose?) and he is intent on proving that Bernie Arruda was connected to the Villistas, the forces riding with Pancho Villa.
Alafair is a sensible, practical country woman, who mothers her crew and also manages to come across a few mysteries along the way. She doesn't act in an irresponsible way, but does seem to have a knack for putting facts in an order that suggest who might be guilty of wrongdoing. She loves her husband, Shaw, and their marriage is one of devotion and humor. This book is a little different because we only get a bit of a glimpse of the family back home. The historical detail that Donis Casey includes in her books is a special gift. The author lives in Arizona now, but she is an Oklahoma native and writes of both states with authority. She also includes a section at the end with recipes from the time period, as well as historical notes and real people mentioned (like Marshal Joe Dillon, who was an actual person).
My mother's parents were from Oklahoma and they lived near where Donis sets her town of Boynton. I get a thrill every time I read one of these books, feeling like I've just had a visit with my great-grandparents and grandparents. This book's setting of Tempe, Arizona was lots of fun as well. We've visited the Phoenix/Scottsdale/Tempe area several times and I've attended author events there at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore featuring Donis Casey. She is a lovely person.
So, I'm very happy to give a thumbs-up to The Wrong Hill To Die On. I'm looking forward to reading on in the series. In case you'd like to start at the beginning, the first book is The Old Buzzard Had It Coming. Pull up a chair and set a spell. Have a big ol' glass of iced tea. You are most welcome!