A Spider for Loco Shoat: A Novel

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9780805048490: A Spider for Loco Shoat: A Novel
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In western Arkansas in 1907, seven-year-old Jay Bird Joey Schwartz hides out in the National Cemetery and becomes the only witness to the murder of one of Fort Smith's most prominent citizens. 12,500 first printing.

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In his latest richly detailed historical mystery, veteran chronicler of the Old West Douglas C. Jones tells us how to buy oysters and score cocaine in 1907 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He also describes the work of a coroner in those early days of forensic medicine, and how retired U.S. marshal Oscar Schiller (hero of Jones's wonderful The Search for Temperance Moon) goes about finding out who murdered a wealthy businessman when the local police can't--or won't--solve the crime. Other of Jones's memorable books available in paperback include Arrest Sitting Bull, The Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer, and A Creek Called Wounded Knee.

From Kirkus Reviews:

The killers who leave a naked corpse on an Arkansas River bank in the spring of 1907 lead legendary lawman Oscar Schiller a merry chase through Indian Country and beyond, in another delightful period piece from Jones (Shadow of the Moon, 1996, etc.). Schiller (last heard from in The Search for Temperance Moon, 1991) has not gone gently into the good night of retirement, so he's quick to take an uninvited hand in the mysterious murder of Gerald Wagstaff, a prominent Fort Smith businessman. After determining that there's more to the case than Sheriff Leviticus Tapp (a Dartmouth man who bears frequent witness to the strength of his religious faith) would have the public believe, the Waspish ex- federal marshall wangles a carte blanche commission from the local US Attorney. With the help of an Osage (aptly named Joe Mountain), Schiller noses about his old stomping ground, the Oklahoma Territory, now in the early stages of a crude-oil boom. While prowling the rapidly changing frontier, he sustains a gunshot wound, but not before he learns that the dead man had masterminded a lucrative scam that involved selling bootleg drilling equipment and holding large American Express under false names. From a half- witted outlaw, Schiller gets a line on Lota Berry, Wagstaff's missing paramour, and back in Fort Smith, the dogged sleuth locates the hapless Lota's body at the bottom of a dry well. Her moonlight disinterment soon flushes out the principal plotters in a sorry tale of betrayal, coerced confessions, embezzlement, homicide, hypocrisy, and torture. At the close, the culpable pay varied prices for their crimes, and the quirky Schiller makes an effort to adapt to a city overtaken by modern conveniences--automobiles, for example, electricity, and the telephone. Entertaining fare expertly set in a turning-point of American history, from a prolific old pro whose oeuvre bears consideration as a national treasure. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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