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Old grudges, tribal traditions, and outside influences collide for a Kiowa woman as forces threaten her family, her tribe, and the land of her ancestors, in this own-voices debut perfect for fans of Winter Counts.
No one called her Mud in Silicon Valley. There, she was Mae, a high-powered professional who had left her Kiowa roots behind a decade ago. But a cryptic voice message from her grandfather, James Sawpole, telling her to come home sounds so wrong that she catches the next plane to Oklahoma. She never expected to be plunged into a web of theft, betrayal, and murder.
Mud discovers a tribe in disarray. Fracking is damaging their ancestral lands, Kiowa families are being forced to sell off their artifacts, and frackers have threatened to kill her grandfather over his water rights. When Mud and her cousin Denny discover her grandfather missing, accused of stealing the valuable Jefferson Peace medal from the tribe museum—and stumble across a body in his work room—Mud has no choice but to search for answers.
Mud sets out into the Wildlife Refuge, determined to clear her grandfather's name and identify the killer. But Mud has no idea that she's about to embark on a vision quest that will involve deceit, greed, and a charging buffalo—or that a murderer is on her trail.
About the Author
D.M. Rowell (Koyh Mi O Boy Dah) Like her protagonist Mud, Rowell comes from a long line of Kiowa Storytellers. After a thirty-two-year career spinning stories for Silicon Valley startups and corporations with a few escapes creating award-winning independent documentaries, Rowell started a new chapter writing mysteries that share information about her Plains Indian tribe, the Kiowas. She enjoys life in California with her partner of thirty-seven years, their son and a feral gray cat.
Praise for Never Name the Dead:
“Never Name the Dead weaves a tale of timely Native issues like fracking and poverty with a breathless mystery.”
“[A] debut wrapped in Kiowa history, stories, and culture . . . Recommended for readers of David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s Winter Counts.”
“Rowell’s Never Name the Dead is an impressive debut, charting a woman’s return from Silicon Valley to her roots, the Kiowa tribal land in Oklahoma, where she finds a divided tribe, land threatened by fracking, and her own grandfather missing and possibly framed for a crime she knows he didn’t commit. The novel then becomes a detective story with a deep sense of place and history. Rowell brings notes of poetry to the dark tale of corruption.”
“[Never Name the Dead] may join the ranks of Native American books along the veins of Tony Hillerman and Anne Hillerman's Leaphorn/Chee mysteries.”
—Midwest Book Review
“Greed and murder face off against the power of traditional Native American wisdom and rituals in a gripping tale set in Oklahoma on a reservation fighting to preserve the Kiowa culture and way of life. Mystical and magical, D. M. Rowell’s debut novel puts her in the ranks of Tony Hillerman, with a resolute female sleuth whose name is Mud but whose vision, purified with sacred smoke, is crystal clear.”
—Eric Redman, award-nominated author of Bones of Hilo
“Oil frackers and regalia looters meet their match in Mae "Mud" Sawpole, a Silicon Valley exec and former college softball slugger who returns to her Kiowa homeland in Oklahoma to settle the score.”
—Kris Lackey, author of the Maytubby-Bond series