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Buffalo Jump Blues

Buffalo Jump Blues

by Keith McCafferty

In the fifth novel in the Sean Stranahan mystery series, Montana's favorite fly fisherman-detective tackles a case of lost love, murder, and wildlife politics
In the wake of Fourth of July fireworks in Montana’s Madison Valley, Hyalite County sheriff Martha Ettinger and Deputy Sheriff Harold Little Feather investigate a horrific


In the fifth novel in the Sean Stranahan mystery series, Montana's favorite fly fisherman-detective tackles a case of lost love, murder, and wildlife politics
In the wake of Fourth of July fireworks in Montana’s Madison Valley, Hyalite County sheriff Martha Ettinger and Deputy Sheriff Harold Little Feather investigate a horrific scene at the Palisades cliffs, where a herd of bison have fallen to their deaths. Victims of blind panic caused by the pyrotechnics, or a ritualistic hunting practice dating back thousands of years? The person who would know is beyond asking, an Indian man found dead among the bison, his leg pierced by an arrow.
Farther up the valley, fly fisherman, painter, and sometime private detective Sean Stranahan has been hired by the beautiful Ida Evening Star, a Chippewa Cree woman who moonlights as a mermaid at the Trout Tails Bar & Grill, to find her old flame, John Running Boy. The cases seem unrelated—until Sean’s search leads him right to the brink of the buffalo jump. With unforgettable characters and written with Spur Award Winner Keith McCafferty's signature grace and wry humor, Buffalo Jump Blues weaves a gripping tale of murder, wildlife politics, and lost love.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the start of McCafferty’s absorbing fifth Montana-set Sean Stranahan mystery (after 2015’s Crazy Mountain Kiss), something causes 11 bison to jump off the Palisades cliffs. Nearby, Sheriff Martha Ettinger and Deputy Harold Little Feather discover the corpse of a Native American man who was disemboweled, shot with an arrow, and left to die. Down at the local mermaid bar, performer Ida Evening Star hires fly-fishing private eye Stranahan to track down her childhood sweetheart, John Running Boy, whom she thinks may be in town. The cases intersect, and the investigators join forces when it’s determined the bison were driven to their deaths during a reenactment of an ancient hunting ritual in which Running Boy likely participated. Nuanced relationships, nontraditional heroes, and a strong sense of place offset two-dimensional antagonists with murky motives. McCafferty’s entertaining tale, which shines a light on the government’s slaughter of migrating bison, is sure to please advocates for change in current U.S. wildlife management policy. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary. (June)
From the Publisher
Praise for Buffalo Jump Blues

“McCafferty’s wryly bantering characters are irresistible, his humor tangy, and his lyricism potent as he matches escalating action with intriguing disquisition…A sharply ironic and suspenseful tale surreptitiously veined with profound insights into love, friendship, cultural collisions, and dire conflicts over wildlife and land, the sacred and the profitable.”—Booklist (starred)

“Absorbing…[An] entertaining tale.”—Publisher’s Weekly

“Explosive, gripping and not to be missed.  Keith McCafferty gets the West just right with its cast of individualistic characters, stunning backdrops and a past that breaks through in violent and unexpected ways.  Buffalo Jump Blues is an impressive crime novel, and McCafferty is an impressive writer.”
—Margaret Coel, New York Times bestselling author of The Man Who Fell From the Sky and Winter’s Child
“Keith McCafferty understands that there is much more to a riveting mystery than what is commonly found in the typical whodunit. He also knows that a rousing good tale can often shine a light on important matters that deserve our attention. In Buffalo Jump Blues, McCafferty does that and more as he takes us into the heart of Big Sky Country, a place he knows and loves, and treats us to a tightly crafted tale packed with quirky, captivating characters — mostly good, some just plain mean, and several who are simply murderous – and weaves an adventure that leaves you wanting more. He writes with heart and command of the story that sparkles on every page.”
—Michael McGarrity, New York Times bestselling author of Backlands
Buffalo Jump Blues is an evocative portrayal of the West, as rugged as it is fragile, and the centuries-old conflicts that still haunt the land and the people.  McCafferty nails the delicate balance between humor and heft in a genuine way as he skillfully weaves together history and a present day mystery through an eclectic, endearing cast of characters.  You will be thinking about this book long after you read the last page.”
—P.J. Tracy, New York Times bestselling author of Off the Grid

“Gorgeous writing about Montana’s wilderness, and battles among the forces competing to claim it.”—Sara Paretsky, New York Times bestselling author of Critical Mass

“McCafferty has an ear and eye for character, language, history, politics and murder, all of which come together in this strikingly original novel, which plays the past and present conflicts of American Indian life with and against a very contemporary story of identity, corruption and murder that grabs the reader on the first page and never lets go.”—Jonathan Santlofer, bestselling author of The Death Artist 

"Rich in history, local color, and unique characters."—Kirkus Reviews (starred) 

Praise for Crazy Mountain Kiss

"McCafferty does a marvelous job of manipulating mood, moving from light to dark. . . . [Crazy Mountain Kiss] is the best McCafferty novel yet, and it’s a must for Craig Johnson and C. J. Box fans."—Booklist (Starred)

"This is a must for fans of eclectic mysteries in which the setting is just as important as the characters."—Publisher's Weekly (starred)

"Stranahan's fourth case blends humor with heartbreak, all flavors of eccentricity with a struggle for normalcy, and a natural backdrop that can make even the most powerful humans and their deeds look small."—Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Dead Man's Fancy

“McCafferty’s beautifully written third mystery….The complex, multilayered story smoothly switches from one character to another.”—Publishers Weekly (Starred)

“McCafferty knows his country and his characters, who have a comfortable, lived-in feel and yet shine as individuals. . . . [His] understated prose deserves to be savored.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[Dead Man’s Fancy] delivers a carefully plotted western procedural. . . . Good reading for fans of [C. J.] Box, Craig Johnson, Nevada Barr, and Paul Doiron, although McCafferty has his own distinctive voice.”—Booklist

“McCafferty’s third series entry lassos up a range of topics—wolf reintroduction, wilderness living and survival, animal rights—that are uncovered through his protagonists’ meticulous sleuthing.”—Library Journal

Praise for The Gray Ghost Murders

“This is a truly wonderful read. In an old and crowded field, Keith has created characters fresh, quirky and yet utterly believable, then stirred them into a mystery that unfolds with grace and humor against a setting of stunning beauty and danger. Stranahan, the fisherman sleuth, breaks free of the old clichés and delights with his humanity, vulnerability and love of cats.  Yes, cats.  Keith has written a book that speaks to women and men regardless of color or background.  The only downside of this book is that we must wait a year for the next one.”—Nevada Barr, New York Times bestselling author of the Anna Pigeon Mysteries
“Even amid the serene trout streams of Montana, Sean Stranahan can’t seem to stay out of trouble—and there’s a heap of it in this bracing second adventure for the fly fisher/painter/PI. . . .  Field & Stream editor McCafferty skillfully weaves Big Sky color, humor, and even romance (in the form of Sean’s stunning new girlfriend, Martinique, who’s bankrolling veterinary school by working as a bikini barista) into the suspenseful plot as it gallops toward a white-knuckle. . . . climax. The book’s biggest lure, however, remains Sean and his rugged band of Montana individualists.”—Publishers Weekly
“Think big-city CSI teams have it tough? Their examinations of crime scenes are hardly ever interrupted by a grizzly bear like the one that sends Deputy Harold Little Feather to the hospital. . . . Irresistible.”—Kirkus Reviews 

“Firmly set in the Montana wilderness and populated by well-drawn characters. This series will appeal to fans of Nevada Barr and C. J. Box as well as to fly-fishing devotees.”—Booklist 

Praise for The Royal Wulff Murders 

"Keith McCafferty has pulled off a small miracle with The Royal Wulff Murders - a compelling Montana-based novel that will please both mystery readers and discerning fly-fishers. A terrific debut that rings with authenticity and style."—C. J. Box, New York Times bestselling author of Back of Beyond and Force of Nature

"The Royal Wulff Murders hit all my buttons: mystery, flyfishing, Montana, the Madison River, beautiful women, and whole pickup loads of authentic Montana characters, many of them wonderfully quirky. Keith McCafferty is one terrific writer."—Patrick F. McManus, author of The Huckleberry Murders

"Blue Ribbon is what they call a trout stream of extremely high quality and that's what I call Keith McCafferty's The Royal Wulff Murders- the debut of a frighteningly knowledgeable and wonderfully entertaining series."—Craig Johnson, author of The Cold Dish and Dry Bones

“A fish story with a homicidal hook… An entertaining debut.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[A] thoroughly entertaining debut…McCafferty blends plenty of fly-fishing lore with a host of intriguing characters…The vivid Montana setting is a plus.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The dead man whose eye is skewered with a stick and who has a trout fly hooked into his lip sets the tone for this muscular, original first novel. McCafferty is one of the country's most convincing writers on survival and life in the wilderness, and this mystery is an impressive foray into fiction—taut, often highly amusing, filled with memorable characters like the lady sheriff and the former private eye who paints and fly fishes—and it's a real page turner."—Nick Lyons, author of My Secret Fishing Life

“Keith McCafferty hits a bull's eye with Sean's story in his debut novel...The mystery is a good fit for enthusiasts of Nevada Barr who have read through all the Anna Pigeon novels. Packed with wilderness action and starring a band of stalwart individualists, The Royal Wulff Murders will have readers begging McCafferty for more.”—ShelfAwareness.com

"What a fine and thoroughly satisfying debut novel! There’s so much to enjoy here—a fresh sense of place, a cast of compelling characters, and a plot line with as many twists and turns as a Montana trout stream. Even if you know nothing about fly fishing, you’re going to love this book. Mark my words: From this day forward, you’ll be buying everything Keith McCafferty writes."—William Kent Krueger, author of Northwest Angle and Iron Lake

"Keith McCafferty's The Royal Wulff Murders is the mystery fly anglers have been waiting for. Finally, an author who knows the crucial difference between 2X and 4X tippet! But it's not just the fishing details that make this novel so enjoyable: it's the rich characters, the robust sense of humor, a sadly topical plot, and a writing style that is as gin-clear as a Montana trout stream."—Paul Doiron, author of Trespasser and The Poacher’s Son

"The last time I fished the Madison River it was high, fast, and dirty—words that come to mind for parts of McCafferty’s tangy debut mystery. But there are also episodes of angling wonder and Montana beauty, rendered in prose so gorgeous they make this book a truly rare catch, the page-turner that doubles as a poetic meditation. (Now how about taking me out on the river, dude?)"—Mark Kingwell, author of Catch and Release: Trout Fishing and the Meaning of Life 

“Sportsmen will find the one-of-a-kind novel captivating, intelligent, and at times uproarious."
Field & Stream

"What fun it is to visit my favorite fishing spots , not in a guide- boat but in a wonderful murder mystery."—Henry Winkler, author of I've Never Met an Idiot on the River  

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-03-31
An animal sacrifice is prelude to human murder in Montana. The dead and dying should be all in a day's work for Harold Little Feather and his lover and boss, Hyalite County Sheriff Martha Ettinger. But the moaning, broken bodies of bison that left the protected herd on federal property and stampeded over the cliffs guarding the Madison River are heartbreaking. Though Harold's own Blackfeet ancestors used to drive the bison over these cliffs and then kill them in an age-old ritual, he doesn't like having to destroy the first bison to return in 150 years to his people's old hunting grounds. Worse yet, a blood trail he and Martha follow leads to a human body. While Martha tries to learn the identity of the dead man and wrangles with the Montana Department of Livestock over the fate of the stampede's sole surviving bison, her ex-lover Sean Stranahan is getting friendly with a mermaid. Ida Evening Star, one of the swimming attractions of a local bar, hires Sean, who's a private eye (Crazy Mountain Kiss, 2015, etc.) when he isn't a fishing guide and a watercolor artist, to find her childhood sweetheart, John Running Boy. Sean's quest overlaps with Martha's when they learn that John was one of four young men who drove the bison over the cliffs. As Sean and Martha join forces in professional camaraderie and personal regret, the search widens to include an old arrow maker, a bison advocacy group, and a white man called the Great Tatanka. Sean increasingly suspects that the masterminds behind the jump and the murder don't share his respect for the land, the wildlife that inhabit it, and the people who first lived on it. And he'll put his own life on the line to stop the culprits. The fifth case for McCafferty's fly-tying detective is as rich in history, local color, and unique characters as the first four. You can't help hoping that the two leads will solve the problems of their relationship as readily as all those crimes.

Product Details

Gale Group
Publication date:
Sean Stranahan Mysteries , #3
Edition description:
Large Print
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Keith McCafferty is the survival and outdoor skills editor of Field & Stream, and the author of The Royal Wulff Murders, The Gray Ghost Murders, Dead Man’s Fancy, and Crazy Mountain Kiss, which won the 2016 Spur Award for Best Western Contemporary Novel. Winner of the Traver Award for angling literature, he is a two-time National Magazine awards finalist. He lives with his wife in Bozeman, Montana.

Keith encourages you to visit him at keithmccafferty.com

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