The theft of sacred petroglyphs from a Columbia River Gorge park sets off a chain of violence ten years later.
Sheila Simonson made a name for herself in the 1990s with her highly praised five-book traditional-mystery series about Lark Dodge, a Pacific Northwest bookseller. Simonson then took ten years off from writing to care for elderly parents, but now shes back with her new Latouche County series. Set in a fictitious town and county along the Columbia River Gorge, among other things Buffalo Bills Defunct wrestles on the local level with the global problem of destruction of ancient artifacts. Simonson can remember visiting the salmon fishing sites along the Columbia as a child, before they were tragically drowned by the waters of The Dalles (Oregon) Dam.
Buffalo Bills Defunct also deals with the mentality of the collector, all the way from Lord Elgins Marbles to todays hoarder of artifacts and sacred objects from different and past cultures. The books title is taken from the poem (used as an epigraph) by e.e. cummings. It refers specifically here to one of the murder victims, a wild-west Libertarian type, and more generally to the old-fashioned conquering-the-West mentalitywhich is finally becoming nearly defunct in todays more sensitive and aware times.
Fascinating characters include a sheriffs investigator, perhaps too sensitive for his own good; the newly arrived head librarian, who calls herself Feckless Meg; the principal chief of the local tribe, reckless with lives in her quest to reclaim her peoples heritage; a county official who thinks laws are for others; a wealthy family eager to forget their small-town roots; various colorful townspeople, tribal members, and cops; and a terrific dog named Towser.
Sheila Simonson, a lifelong Pacific Northwest resident, taught college English and history before becoming a writer of historical fiction and then a successful mystery writer with the Lark Dodge series. She lives with her husband in Vancouver, Washington.