The Eagle Catcher

Table of Contents
“The best parts of The Eagle Catcher are Coel's portrayal of the dual cultures that exist uneasily on the reservation and an uncanny sense of dialogue that makes her characters ring true.”
Denver Post
“[The Eagle Catcher's]
native American theme will inspire comparisons to the work of Tony Hillerman, but its insights into the Arapaho way of life in our century are unique to this form.”
—LOREN D. ESTLEMAN, author of Edsel
“Insightful commentary about Arapaho culture ... Likable, well-drawn characters and a lively pace mark this novel—which seems poised for a sequel—for Hillerman fans.”
—Publishers Weekly
“The Eagle Catcher is a beautifully plotted novel with tension that builds with the speed of a stone rolling down a hill.”
—ANNE RIPLEY, author of Mulch
“One can only hope that this is the beginning of a long and shining career for both Margaret Coel and Father John.”
—I Love a Mystery
“Welcome Margaret Coel to the ranks of esteemed western mystery writers such as Hillerman, Hager, and Prowell.
The Eagle Catcher...
is not only an alluring fresh mystery told with the authoritative voice of a historian, it is also a thoughtful testimony to the clash of cultures that endures in the West. The second one won't come too soon.”
—STEPHEN WHITE, author of
Higher Authority
Private Practices
“A first-rate mystery, played out against a background of Arapaho tradition and the vast reaches of Wyoming's Wind River Reservation, and featuring two admirable sleuths, Father John O'Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden.”
—JEAN HAGER, author of the Mitch Bushyhead and Molly Bearpaw Cherokee Mysteries
“The story begins at once and drives straight through. The theme is handled with a wonderfully deft hand: The reader learns something without thinking about the process, which is what all good novels do.”
—JOHN DUNNING, author of Booked to Die
Eagle Catcher is an intense and fascinating story of avarice, tragic old wrongs, and ultimate justice. Margaret Coel has gifted us with a western mystery full of characters we long to know better and a Wyoming setting that takes our breath away.”
—EARLENE FOWLER, author of
Fool's Puzzle and Irish Chain
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
The University Press of Colorado edition / 1995
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / September 1996
Copyright © 1995 by Margaret Coel.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-1-101-12739-1
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
The name BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Every author owes an enormous debt to those who believed, who encouraged, who championed, and I am no exception. I wish to express my deep gratitude to all who read this manuscript—some, several times—and suggested the ways to make
The Eagle Catcher
a better book than it otherwise might have been. My perceptive readers included Elaine Long, Karen Gilleland, Janis Hallowell, Julie Paschen, Bruce Most, and Ann Ripley, all exceptionally talented writers themselves; Carol Irwin, a fine teacher and editor; and Virginia Sutter, member of the Arapaho tribe and former tribal councilwoman.
My thanks to those who explained the many technical issues with which I had to grapple. They include Ben Binder, of Digital Design Group, Inc., who helped to clear a path through the thicket of oil leasing on reservations; William Irwin, special agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Richard Gist, federal magistrate, who clarified many points on law enforcement on reservations; Scott Ratliff, member of the Shoshone tribe, and Miriam and Hugh Crymble, who suggested people to contact and places to see at Wind River Reservation.
Special thanks are extended to my good friend, the Rev. Anthony Short, S.J., for sharing his deep insights and understanding of Arapaho culture; to the Rev. J. Robert Hilbert, S.J., St. Stephen's Mission, for his hospitality during my numerous research trips to Wind River Reservation ; to the many Arapaho people who have been kind and generous enough to share their thoughts and experiences with me, especially Mary Ann Duran, Bob Spoonhunter, Virginia Sutter, and Pious Moss.
My thanks also to my agent, Jane Jordan Browne, to Luther Wilson, director, University Press of Colorado, and to Judith Stem, senior editor, Berkley.
And to my husband, George Coel, who has always believed in me the most.
Except for the fact that Wind River Reservation in Central Wyoming sprawls across two-and-one-half million acres, an area larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, and
except for the fact that the Arapaho and Shoshone people call the Wind River Reservation home, and
except for the fact that, for more than a century, Euro-Americans have continued to devise a host of ingenious methods to defraud American Indian tribes across the West,
except for all of this,
The Eagle Catcher
is not based on actual events or situations.
Nor are the characters based on real people of any time. The people who move through this story are, in the words of Henry James, my dream people.
Margaret Coel
COLD GUST of wind whipped across the Ethete powwow grounds and flapped at Father John Aloysius O'Malley's windbreaker. He savored the warmth in the cloud of steam rising out of the foam cup a moment, then took another sip of coffee. His eyes searched the crowd of Arapahos: parents herding kids along, an occasional father with a child on his shoulders, grandmothers and grandfathers trailing behind, bands of teenagers—all headed toward the dance arbor. Father John recognized most of the faces. He didn't see Harvey Castle anywhere.
The sky was as gray as granite. It might rain today, but Father John considered it unlikely. It hadn't rained since June, the Moon When the Hot Weather Begins, by the Arapaho Way of marking time. Now it was the last Saturday in July, the Moon When the Chokecherries Ripen, and even the air felt cracked and brittle. The Arapahos kicked up little whirls of dust as they settled themselves into aluminum lawn chairs around the arbor. He had never figured out why they called it an arbor—therewasn't a tree in sight. Just a patch of scraped earth where the dances would take place.
Father John wondered what was keeping Harvey. The dancers were already lining up outside the three-foot-high log fence that marked off the arbor, feathered headdresses bobbing in the wind. The Grand Entry would start any minute. It wasn't like the tribal chairman to be this late. He'd sounded worried yesterday when he'd called. “You goin' to the powwow this weekend?” he'd asked. Of course Father John was going to the powwow. It was the biggest celebration of the year at Wind River Reservation—he wouldn't miss it. And he intended to bring his new assistant at St. Francis Mission and introduce him around.
“Meet me at the brush shade at nine o'clock tomorrow. I got something important to talk over.” There was urgency in Harvey's voice. Father John had almost asked what was going on. But he had shoved the impulse aside and muttered something like, “See you tomorrow.” He'd been pacing in front of the brush shade a good thirty minutes now. He was drowning in coffee, and Harvey was nowhere around.
“You lookin' for somebody, Father?” It was a woman's voice behind him, but Father John turned quickly, half expecting Harvey to be there, too. Alva White Bull was leaning over the metal table in the center of the brush shade, which he would have called a food booth back in Boston. She looked up, sent him a quick smile, then went back to flattening a wad of dough on the table with the palms of her hands.

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