The Grandfather Medicine by Jean Hager

Here is my fourth What’s in a Name Challenge read, the book with a life stage in the title. It is also a TBR challenge read.

Genre: Police procedural
Year of publication: 1989
No. in series: 1
Series detective: Police Chief Mitchell “Mitch” Bushyhead
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: Buckskin, a fictional small town in Oklahoma, USA; contemporary

A promising Cherokee artist is found murdered in his house with two of his fingers missing, the first murder to take place in Buckskin for 10 years and Chief Bushyhead soon finds himself on the trail of a cold-blooded killer. Pressure for results and information by the town council does not sit well with him and he knows his job may well be on the line, but he still investigates the case methodically, carefully sifting through evidence and clues and questioning witnesses to discover who could have held enough of a grudge to kill the victim.

This is a police procedural/murder mystery with a half-white, half-Native American protagonist, and like in the Tony Hillerman novels that undoubtedly inspired it, it gives some fascinating glimpses into Native American traditions, in this case of the Cherokee. The writing is plain and the plotting solid and deftly woven and the side story about Bushyhead’s private life is fortunately neither long-winded nor dysfunctional to the point being ridiculous like in some detective novels I could mention. It’s a nice little mystery, nothing earth-shattering, but interesting enough that I wouldn’t mind reading another of Hager’s books. 3 stars.


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