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About Donis Casey
Donis Casey is the author of five Alafair Tucker Mysteries, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, Hornswoggled, The Drop Edge of Yonder, The Sky Took Him, and Crying Blood (Feb. 2011). She has twice won the Arizona Book Award for her series, and been a finalist for the Willa Award and the Oklahoma Book Award. Her first novel, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, was named an Oklahoma Centennial Book.
While researching her own genealogy, she discovered so many ripping tales of settlers, soldiers, cowboys and Indians, murder, dastardly deeds, and general mayhem that she said to herself, “Donis, you have enough material here for ten books.” The resulting historical mystery series, set in Oklahoma in the booming 1910s, features the sleuthing mother of ten children.
Donis is a former teacher, academic librarian, and entrepreneur. She was born and raised in Tulse, Oklahoma, and now lives in Tempe, AZ, with her husband, poet Donald Koozer.
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Books By Donis Casey
WHO IS TRYING TO KILL HOLLYWOOD'S GREATEST LOVER?
Though Bianca LaBelle, star of the wildly popular silent movie serial "The Adventures of Bianca Dangereuse", and Rudolph Valentino, the greatest screen idol of all time, have been friends for years, in the summer of 1926 they are finally making their first picture together. Despite their success, one evening at Bianca's fabulous Beverly Hills estate, a troubled Rudy confesses that he has received anonymous death threats.
In a matter of days, filming comes to an abrupt halt when Rudy falls deathly ill. It could be poison, but it's definitely not a coincidence.
As Rudy lies dying, Bianca promises him that she will find out who is responsible. Was it one of his many lovers? A delusional fan? Or perhaps Rudy had run afoul of a mobster whose name Bianca knows all too well? With the help of P.I. Ted Oliver she dives into investigating the end of what had seemed to be the charmed life of Valentino.
The inimitable Bianca brings her star power to the role of female private investigator in Valentino Will Die, a propulsive Hollywood mystery novel, sure to thrill fans of Golden Age movies.
From critically acclaimed author Donis Casey comes the first in a vintage Hollywood mystery series! When a string of baffling clues leads to 1920s film star Bianca LaBelle, it looks like her dark secrets have finally come back to haunt her. Because the only thing worth more than wealth and fame is revenge...
Blanche Tucker longs to escape her drop-dead dull life in tiny Boynton, Oklahoma. Then a suave film producer roars into town. Graham Peyton is Blanche's ticket out of town—he can offer her a life of stardom in Beverly Hills. But the sleezy producer's offer is too good to be true, and once they get to California Blanche finds herself sold to a dangerous man. But she's determined to make a new life for herself, whatever the cost...
Six years later, Blanche has transformed into Bianca LaBelle, the reclusive and beloved film star. But when a private detective visits Bianca's mansion to ask her about remains found on a Santa Monica beach, it seems her shiny new life is going up in smoke. Peyton was murdered, and as this movie star mystery heats up, suspicion falls on the enigmatic Bianca. Did she make him pay for her private wrongs? With all of the twists and turns of a 1920s film, The Wrong Girl follows the daring exploits of a girl who chases her dream from the farm to old Hollywood, while showing just how risky—and rewarding—it can be to go off script.
Barnes & Noble pick for "20 Favorite Indie Books of 2018"
"Casey expertly nails the extended Tucker family—some 20 people—and combines these convincing characters, a superb sense of time and place, and a solid plot in this marvelously atmospheric historical." —Publishers Weekly STARRED review
Some people who have experienced a shocking, dangerous, or terrifying event develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is recognized today as a debilitating but potentially treatable mental health condition. Military veterans are a vulnerable group. But PTSD can deliver a knockout blow to anyone, as the remarkable unfolding of the tenth Alafair Tucker Mystery, Forty Dead Men, shows.
World War I is over. Alafair is overjoyed that her elder son, George Washington Tucker, has finally returned home from the battlefields of France. Yet she is the only one in the family who senses that he has somehow changed.
Gee Dub moves back into his old bunkhouse quarters, but he's restless and spends his days roaming. One rainy day while out riding he spies a woman trudging along the country road. She's thoroughly skittish and rejects his help. So Gee Dub cannily rides for home to enlist his mother in offering the exhausted traveler shelter.
Once made comfortable at the Tucker farm, Holly Johnson reveals she's forged her way from Maine to Oklahoma in hopes of finding the soldier she married before he shipped to France. At the war's end, Daniel Johnson disappeared without a trace. It's been months. Is he alive? Is she a widow?
Holly is following her only lead—that Dan has connected with his parents who live yonder in Okmulgee. Gee Dub, desperate for some kind of mission, resolves to shepherd Holly through her quest although the prickly young woman spurns any aid. Meanwhile, Alafair has discovered that Gee Dub sleeps with two cartridge boxes under his pillow—boxes containing twenty "dead men" each. The boxes are empty, save for one bullet. She recognizes in Gee Dub and Holly that not all war wounds are physical.
Then Holly's missing husband turns up, shot dead. Gee Dub is arrested on suspicion of murder, and the entire extended Tucker family rallies to his defense. He says he had no reason to do it, but the solitary bullet under Gee Dub's pillow is gone. Regardless, be he guilty or innocent, his mother will travel any distance and go to any lengths to keep him out of prison.
"Vividly rendered and psychologically astute, this somewhat transparent puzzler provides an unusually immersive perspective on familiar historical territory." —Booklist
World War I is raging in Europe, but as the deadly influenza pandemic of 1918 sweeps like a wildfire through Boynton, Oklahoma, Alafair Tucker is fighting her own war. Her daughter, Alice, and son-in-law, Walter Kelley, have both come down with the flu, and Alafair has moved into town to care for them after quarantining her young children at their sister's farm. Boynton as a whole isolates itself like an old English plague village, discouraging anyone from coming into town and the residents from traveling outside. A new doctor applies science to treating the stricken, but Alafair applies all she knows about hygiene, nutrition, and old and trusted country remedies. Unable to aid her sons and sons-in-law fighting overseas, this is danger she can combat.
One autumn afternoon, screams coming from next door alert Alafair that Alice's neighbor, Nola Thomason, and her son Lewis have suddenly and unexpectedly succumbed. Yet there is something about the way the pair died that causes Alafair to suspect their deaths were due to poison rather than to influenza. The epidemic is so overwhelming that it is many days before the only doctor left in town can confirm Alafair's suspicions; neither Nola nor Lewis died of the flu. The only witness to their deaths, twelve-year-old Dorothy Thomason, a special friend of Alafair's daughter, Sophronia, is so traumatized that she is rendered mute. Were Nola and her son murdered, and if so, why?
The usual motives for murder are greed, or jealousy, or hatred. Or could it be, as Alafair fears, that the Raven Mocker, the most dreaded of the Cherokee wizards or witches, the evil spirit who takes to the air in a fiery shape to rob the old, the sick, and the dying of their lives, is hunting victims and bringing misery to the innocent?
With an introduction by Donis Casey.
"A tale full of wit, humor, sorrow and, more important, the truth." —TONY HILLERMAN, New York Times bestselling author
Alafair Tucker is a strong woman, the core of family life on a farm in Oklahoma where the back-breaking work and daily logistics of caring for her husband Shaw, their nine children, and being neighborly requires hard muscle and a clear head. She's also a woman of strong opinions, and it is her opinion that her neighbor, Harley Day, is a drunkard and a reprobate. So, when Harley's body is discovered frozen in a snowdrift one January day in 1912, she isn't surprised that his long-suffering family isn't, if not actually celebrating, much grieving.
When Alafair helps Harley's wife prepare the body for burial, she discovers that Harley's demise was anything but natural—there is a bullet lodged behind his ear. Alafair is concerned when she hears that Harley's son, John Lee, is the prime suspect in his father's murder, for Alafair's seventeen-year-old daughter Phoebe is in love with the boy. At first, Alafair's only fear is that Phoebe is in for a broken heart, but as she begins to unravel the events that led to Harley's death, she discovers that Phoebe might be more than just John Lee's sweetheart: she may be his accomplice in murder.
"Casey's skill at making you care about the injustices of a time and place not often covered in history books is second to none. The admirable mystery is the cherry on top." —Kirkus Reviews
The U.S. has finally entered the First World War and scheduled the first draft lottery. No one in Boynton, Oklahoma, is unaffected by the clash between rabid pro-war, anti-immigrant "patriots" and anti-conscription socialists who are threatening an uprising rather than submit to the draft.
Alafair Tucker is caught in the middle when her brother, a union organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World, pays her a visit. Rob Gunn is fresh out of an internment camp for participants in an Arizona miners' strike. He assures Alafair that he's only come to visit family, but she's not convinced. More unsettling, Alafair's eldest son enlists, and a group calling itself the "Knights of Liberty" vandalizes the farm of Alafair's German-born son-in-law.
Alafair's younger son, 16-year-old Charlie, is wildly patriotic and horrified by his socialist uncle. With his father's permission, Charlie takes a part-time war job at the Francis Vitric Brick Company. Soon several suspicious machine breakdowns delay production, and a couple of shift supervisors are murdered. Everyone in town suspects sabotage, some blaming German spies, others blaming the unionists and socialists. But Charlie Tucker is sure he knows who the culprit is and comes up with a plan to catch him red-handed.
And then there is old Nick—a mysterious guy in a bowler hat who's been hanging around town.
"If you can only read one book this year, Hell with the Lid Blown Off should be that one." —NY Journal of Books
In the summer of 1916, a big twister cuts a swath of destruction through Boynton, Oklahoma. Alafair Tucker's family and neighbors are not spared the ruin and grief spread by the storm.
But no one will mourn for dead Jubal Beldon, who'd made it his business to know everyone's ugly secrets. It never mattered if Jubal's insinuations were true or not since in a small town like Boynton, rumor could be as ruinous as fact. Then Mr. Lee, the undertaker, discovers that Jubal was already dead when the tornado swept his body away. Had he died in an accident or had he been murdered by someone whose secret he had threatened to expose? Dozens of people would have been happy to do the deed, some of them members of Jubal's own family. As Sheriff Scott Tucker and his deputy Trenton Calder look into Jubal's demise, it begins to look like the prime suspect may be someone very dear to the widow Beckie MacKenzie, mentor of Alafair's daughter Ruth. Ruth fears that the secrets exposed by the investigation are going to cause more damage to Beckie's life than the tornado. Alafair, coping with injuries to her own, still has time for suspicions about how Jubal Beldon came to die. What if the truth of it hits very close to home?
"Alafair Tucker deserves to stand beside Ma Joad in literature's gallery of heroic ladies." —TONY HILLERMAN, New York Times bestselling author
1916: Alafair Tucker had not wanted to come to Arizona, but because of her young daughter Blanche's lung ailment, she and her husband Shaw bundled Blanche onto the train and made the nightmare trip from Oklahoma to Alafair's sister in Tempe, Arizona, hoping the dry desert air would help their daughter.
As soon as they arrive, Blanche begins to improve, and Alafair is overjoyed to see her witty, beautiful sister Elizabeth again. For added excitement, a Hollywood motion picture company is shooting their movie right in Tempe.
But Alafair and Shaw soon discover that all is not well. Elizabeth's marriage is in tatters; tensions are high between the Anglo and Latino communities following Pancho Villa's murderous raid on Columbus, New Mexico; and Alafair suspects her sister is involved in an illegal operation to smuggle war refugees out of Mexico and into the U.S.
And now here there's Bernie Arruda, dead on his back in a ditch. The night before he had been singing Mexican love songs at the party in Elizabeth's backyard. Can Alafair connect all the pieces and discover a murderer before it is too late?
"In this third in a series, set on a farm in 1914 Oklahoma, Casey lovingly portrays the Tuckers' close extended family, immersing the reader in both the domestic aspects and the harsh realities of everyday farm life." —Booklist
Who killed Uncle Bill? Alafair Tucker is desperate to find out. One August evening in 1914, a bushwhacker ended a pleasant outing by blowing a hole in Bill McBride, kidnapping and ravaging Bill's fiancée, and wounding Alafair's daughter Mary. Does Mary know who did the low-down deed? If she does, the bullet that grazed her knocked that information right out of her head. All she remembers is that it has something to do with the Fourth of July.
Several malicious acts testify to the fact that Bill's killer is still around and attempting to cover his tracks. The question is, can Mary remember before the murderer manages to eliminate everyone who could identify him?
The law is hot on the bushwhacker's trail. There is little Alafair can do to help the sheriff, but that will never stop her from trying. If there's a chance she can protect Mary from further harm or help her remember, she'll do anything she can. Even confront a vicious killer.
"Donis Casey's voice flows like tea syrup, transporting you effortlessly to the Oklahoma frontier....A welcome invite to your great-grandmother's front porch swing." —JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING, New York Times bestselling author
It's spring 1913, and love is in bloom for Alice Tucker. Walter Kelley is handsome, popular, and wealthy. But Alice's mother, Alafair, sees that Walter has a weakness for the ladies—and they for him. Only a few months earlier, Walter's late wife Louise had been stabbed in the heart and her body disposed of in Cane Creek. The murderer was never caught.
The sheriff cleared Walter of the deed—he had an alibi—but Alafair is not so sure that he wasn't involved in some way. Something literally doesn't smell right.
With the help of her feisty mother-in-law, Sally McBride, Alafair sets out to prove to the headstrong Alice that Walter is not the paragon she thinks he is. Alafair soon uncovers such a tangle of lies, misdirection, and deceit that she begins to think that the whole town has been downright hornswoggled!
"Casey depicts family ties that uplift and support and family ties broken by anger in a poignant, lyrical, authentic novel of early day Oklahoma." —CAROLYN HART, New York Times bestselling author
In the autumn of 1915, Shaw Tucker, his brother James, and their sons go hunting. Instead of a quail, Shaw's dog, Buttercup, flushes an old boot...containing the bones of a foot. Buttercup then leads the men to a shallow grave and a skeleton with a bullet hole in the skull. That night, Shaw awakens to see a pair of moccasin-clad legs brushing by his tent flap. He chases the intruder, but he has disappeared. His concern is justified when he realizes that someone—or something—has followed him home.
Dread turns to relief when he captures a young Creek Indian boy called Crying Blood. Shaw ties the boy up in the barn, but during the few minutes he is left alone, someone thrusts a spear through Crying Blood's heart. The local law is on the killer's trail, but Shaw Tucker has a hunch...
Only Shaw's wife Alafair might be able to forestall his dangerous plan. So Shaw sends her on a wild goose chase so he can confront the killer...
"Those who like their puzzles cloaked in local color from a different time will be amply rewarded." —Publishers Weekly STARRED review
A sad duty brings Alafair Tucker to Enid, Oklahoma, in the fall of 1915. Her sister Ruth Ann's husband, Lester, is not long for this world, and the family is gathering to send him to his reward. Alafair's eldest daughter Martha has come along to care for toddler Grace, freeing Alafair to comfort the soon-to-be-bereaved.
But where is Kenneth, her niece's irresponsible husband? When it comes to light that Kenneth has been involved in some shady dealing with Buck Collins, the most ruthless businessman in town, everyone is convinced that Collins has done him in. In fact, no other possibility is considered. But Alafair suspects that things are not so simple, and with help from Martha, Grace, and her sister's cat, she sets about to discover the truth about Kenneth's fate. Over the next few days, Alafair and Martha come face-to-face with blackmail, intimidation, murder, and family secrets that stretch back over twenty years. And in the process, they discover things about each other that will change their relationship forever.