I always enjoy the chance to visit with Margaret Coel's characters on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, Father John O'Malley and Vicky Holden, the mission priest and the Arapaho lawyer. Watching Eagles Soar contains a number of stories featuring the two, but it also contains some others. Coel calls them "Stories from the Wind River and Beyond."
In Craig Johnson's introduction to the book, he mentions some of his favorite stories. The ten stories making up "The Arapaho Ten Commandments" are some of mine, although you really shouldn't read them all at once as I did. When I did that, I noticed some of Coel's favorite phrases, repeated frequently. All writers have favorite ways to put words together, but Coel's patterns are easy to pick up when all the stories are read at once. I loved the stories about the unsinkable Molly Brown. Coel makes it easy to wish you knew her.
Most of the stories are indicative of Margaret Coel's love of history. In fact, there are two essays at the end of the book that talk about Coel's use of history in her novels, and the importance of the past in all of them. Anyone who has read her mysteries set on the Wind River Reservation has seen how she melts the past into the present, connecting events to today's life. No mystery writer does that any better than Margaret Coel.
Although there are a few contemporary stories in the collection, it's the Wind River Reservation pieces and the ones that connect to history that stand out. Margaret Coel's passion for the history of the West is obvious in this fascinating collection, Watching Eagles Soar.
Margaret Coel's website is www.margaretcoel.com
Watching Eagles Soar by Margaret Coel. Berkley Prime Crime. 2013. ISBN 9780425265543 (paperback), 352p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I was sent the book for review on a website.