A PIPE FOR FEBRUARY

Charles H. Red Corn, Author . Univ. of Oklahoma $29.95 (269p) ISBN 978-0-8061-3454-3

Red Corn bases his debut novel on a real-life series of murders that plagued the Osage Indians in the 1920s. The Osage of Oklahoma had been extraordinarily wealthy since the turn of the century, when it was discovered that their land held vast oil reserves. Now, they try to "live in both the past and the future," enjoying the big cars, fancy homes, European clothes and foreign travel bought with the money from the leased oil wells while nominally retaining many of the old traditions. All this is threatened by a rash of strange, "accidental" deaths. Protagonist John Grayeagle observes the emotional toll of these deaths on the tribe; as the victims receive full tribal funerals, elders warn that the so-called accidents are really murders by resentful whites, and will not stop until the Osage fight back instead of assimilating. When John's grandfather dies, John becomes certain that his close friend, Molly, is next on the hit list. He teams up with Tom, a patriotic WWI vet who grew up with John's family, to find the killers. While the culprits are the predictable lot of greedy whites seeking to profit from the oil-rich land, the story is an enthralling one with some taut, slam-bang action. Yet it's Red Corn's loving descriptions of Osage customs and the moral dilemmas posed by their sudden wealth that make this book a particularly rewarding read. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/04/2002
Release date: 11/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 269 pages - 978-0-8061-3726-1
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