Stone Butterfly (Charlie Moon Series #11)

( 5 )


Daisy Perika is no stranger to eerie dreams, but when she has a nightmare, lives could be at stake. Convinced that her visions of a wisp-thin girl with blood dripping from her hands are omens, the old woman calls on her nephew, Charlie Moon.

A part-time tribal investigator and full-time Colorado rancher, Moon is often skeptical of his aunt's mystical ways. And this time, much as he wants to believe her, Daisy just can't get a clear vision of ...

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Stone Butterfly (Charlie Moon Series #11)

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Daisy Perika is no stranger to eerie dreams, but when she has a nightmare, lives could be at stake. Convinced that her visions of a wisp-thin girl with blood dripping from her hands are omens, the old woman calls on her nephew, Charlie Moon.

A part-time tribal investigator and full-time Colorado rancher, Moon is often skeptical of his aunt's mystical ways. And this time, much as he wants to believe her, Daisy just can't get a clear vision of the girl's face. Moon is ready to give up…until he gets a call about Sarah Frank.

An Ute-Papago orphan that fits Daisy's vision, Sarah seems to be involved in a very real murder. But by the time Moon crosses the border to investigate, he's too late: Not only has Sarah vanished with a one-of-a-kind family heirloom, but Moon isn't the only ones on her trail…

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Doss does for the Utes what Tony Hillerman has done for the Navajo."

—The Denver Post

"Style, pathos, enthusiasm, and humor to spare."—Mystery Scene

"A clever plot…will keep readers turning the pages."—Publishers Weekly

"A potent brew of crime and Native American spirituality."—Booklist

Publishers Weekly
In Doss's entertaining 11th Charlie Moon mystery (after 2005's Shadow Man), Sarah Frank, the 14-year-old Ute-Papago daughter of Moon's late friend Provo Frank, finds herself wanted for the murder of her crotchety part-time employer, Ben Silver, in Nevada. Worst yet, Tonapah's sheriff, Ned Popper, witnesses Sarah hovering over Ben's body and hears the dying man gasp out Sarah's name as she beats her retreat. While Sarah runs for shelter in Colorado, tribal investigator Moon, unaware of Sarah's whereabouts, enlists the help of his love interest, FBI agent Lila Mae McTeague, to locate the girl and bring her to safety. A clever plot, colorful writing and wisecracking asides will keep readers turning the pages. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal

Adult/High School
She is 14 years old, small, thin, desperately poor, always cold, and always hungry. Her name is Sarah Frank, and she's a Ute-Papago orphan living in Tonapah Flats, UT, "on the lonely side of Big Lizard Ridge." Casually cared for with little love by her older cousin and with much disdain by her cousin's universally despised boyfriend, the teen barely registers any notice in the adult world outside of her dismal household-until she is accused of murder, assault, and theft. Then, despite considerable odds, little Sarah manages to vanish with a one-of-a-kind family heirloom. The richest and most sinister person in that part of Utah wants it, and wants it badly. The law is after the girl, and at least some of "the law" are operating outside of the parameters of their sworn duty. Although Sarah proves surprisingly resourceful, the cards are heavily stacked against her. Also looking for her are Charlie Moon, a part-time tribal investigator and full-time rancher; Moon's girlfriend, FBI Special Agent Lila Mae McTeague; and Moon's aunt, Ute shaman Daisy Perika. The latter's search is conducted more through dreams and visions than by more conventional means. In this 11th mystery in the series, Doss skillfully weaves a story full of suspense, humor, greed, and local color, with a few touches of mysticism. Teens will appreciate the fast pace and mounting tension, and are likely to identify with Sarah's struggles against an adult-dominated world.
—Robert SaundersonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
The 11th loopy adventure for Charlie Moon, rancher, Ute tribal investigator and beleaguered nephew. Once again, that irascible Ute crone Aunt Daisy is bedeviled by a nightmare. A young girl whose face she can't see is dripping blood onto a corpse. What does the dream mean? Charlie Moon, Daisy's seven-foot nephew (Shadow Man, 2005, etc.), sidesteps the issue until further dreams reveal the face of half-Ute Sarah Frank, 14, daughter of one of Charlie's dead pals. What has Sarah gotten herself into over in Utah, where she's living mostly destitute with a distant relative? Alas, involvement in the murder of crotchety old Ben Silver, who fought all his life with his half-brother Ray and refused to give up a thingamajig left him by their long-dead mother. Now the thingamajig's missing, Ben's dead and the race is on to find Sarah, last observed swinging a baseball bat over Ben. She's probably headed for sanctuary at Aunt Daisy's place on the Colorado reservation. Will she get there before Sheriff Popper's on-the-take deputies find her? Before Ray's henchmen get to her? Before coyotes accost her in Spirit Canyon? Naturally-maybe supernaturally-Aunt Daisy plans to help her out while giving Charlie a mischievous shove in the romance department. Bidding farewell to FBI Special Agent Lila Mae McTeague, Doss ushers in the era of Sarah and the last days of Charlie's bachelorhood. Droll, crafty, upper-echelon reading.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312936655
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/2/2007
  • Series: Charlie Moon Series , #11
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 344,109
  • Product dimensions: 4.03 (w) x 6.72 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

James D. Doss is the author of the Charlie Moon mysteries, including A Dead Man’s Tale and The Widow’s Revenge. Two of the Moon books were named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly. Originally from Kentucky, he divides his time between Los Alamos and Taos, New Mexico.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

As on all their weekly treks to town, where butter was bartered for those few necessities not produced on the Nestor farm, mother, daughter, and dog marched single file along a narrow pathway through chigger-infested blackberry bushes and broad-leafed poison pokeweed. The trail snaked along the slippery bank of the Flint River for nearly a mile before intersecting the gravel road to Sulphur Springs. It was not yet nine o’clock, and the heavy atmosphere was already steamy-hot. “Try to keep up, Daff.”

“Yes’m.” Daphne scratched at an itchy sore on her elbow.

Without a glance over her shoulder, she added: “And stop pickin’ at that scab!”

“Yes’m.” Granny Nestor says that all mommas has eyes in the backs of their heads. The child squinted hard to see the spot. They must be under her hair.

Momma rolled her visible eyes. Lord, I don’t know why I even bother—it just goes in one ear and out the other. She cast a nervous glance at the brackish, slow-moving waters. This place is alive with cottonmouths and copperheads and God only knows what else. What Else was approaching her left ear. The target of the assault heard the tiny engine whine, felt the fat black mosquito land on her neck. Well, I ain’t gonna put a bucket down to smack you, so you might as well go ahead and get it over with. The stab came swiftly, was followed by a victorious drumroll of thunder. Momma frowned at a somber shroud of low-hanging cloud. There’s rain in that; enough to soak us to the skin. She quickened her pace. “Get a move on!”

“Yes’m.” It seemed that no matter how fast Daphne’s chubby legs chugged along, she was always a dozen steps behind. This, she reasoned, was mainly on account of Momma walks too fast and My legs is too short for me to keep up. But there was more to it than that; the inquisitive child often felt compelled to stop and pick up a pearly fragment of mussel shell, or pluck a pretty brown-eyed Susan, or make an ugly face at a daddy longlegs. She was a busy little pilgrim.

The young mother shuddered at a sinister wriggle-rustling in the grass. “Watch out where you’re steppin’, Daff. And don’t touch nothin’—no fuzzy worms, no ugly-bugs—you hear me?”

“Yes’m.” But even as she spoke, the child spotted a temptation. Oh! Pretty—pretty—pretty! Pink as a wild rose, glistening with pearly dew, it glittered like a jewel fallen from heaven. But most striking of all, a network of crimson veins webbed its translucent wings. Daphne poked her big toe at the exquisite apparition, expecting it to fly away. It did not. Poor thingy—you must be sick. The child squatted, gently picked it up, whispered: “I’ll take you home to Granny Nestor—she’ll make you all well.” She thought it best not to mention that Granny’s prescription for every ailment—be it toothache, dizzy spell, or painful boil—was a tablespoon of castor oil, followed quickly with a soda cracker. With a furtive glance at the back of her mother’s head, the ardent collector slipped this latest acquisition into her apron pocket with an assortment of other treasured objects—like the shiny silver dime Grandpa Nestor had given her for the tent meeting collection plate, a once-lively June bug (recently deceased), and the bloodred Indian arrowhead she had picked up here just last week.

Near a lichen-encrusted log, a largemouth bass broke the river’s still surface to take an unwary minnow. Momma just knew it was a cottonmouth that had dropped off a tree branch. She prayed: Please, Lord—fix it so we can live someplace where there ain’t so many snakes and skeeters.

The tot bent over to snatch up a small jade-green frog. The thing was clammy-cold in her hand. I think Miss Froggy’s dead. She was about to straighten up when—

The hound (who enjoyed such sport) cold-nosed her on the behind.

“Eeep!” she yelped, and hurried to catch up with Momma.

Heavy with a second child, the nineteen-year-old turned to scowl. “What’ve you been up to, Daff?”

“Nothin’, Momma.”

“Nothin’ my hind leg!” Momma raised a lard-bucket like she might take a swat at the girl. “After I told you a hunnerd times not to, did you pick up some dead thing and hide it in your apern pocket?”

“Oh, no—cross my eyes and hope to die!” Daphne’s left eye focused on the tip of her freckled nose, the right one stared straight at her mother.

Momma cringed. “Please Daff—don’t do that.” She added the standard warning: “Someday they’ll stick thataway.”

“When they do, I won’t be able to see where I’m a-goin’.” Imitating Grandpa Nestor (who would get up at night without lighting a coal oil lamp), Daphne bounced off a cottonwood trunk. “Oh, Jimminy—what was that I jus’ bumped into—a ellyphant’s leg?”

“Now you stop that silliness!” To keep from laughing, Momma called up terrible images of pain and death, which also provided inspiration for a dire warning: “And you’d better start payin’ some attention to what I tell you—you keep on pickin’ up them creepy-crawlies, one of ’em is gonna bite you and you’ll swell up and die!”

The eyes uncrossed, an impish smile exposed a too-cute gap in a row of miniature teeth, a chubby hand closed around the stone-cold amphibian in her apron pocket. “I only stopped to look at a little bitsy frog, but she hopped an’ hopped away”—Daphne demonstrated with little arcs of her hand—“and I heard a splish-splash when she jumped inta the river and got et by a great big garfish.” To illustrate how the voracious gar had chomped the frog, the girl clicked her tiny teeth together.

Momma shook her head. This child is just like her daddy and all her daddy’s folks from up yonder in Butler County—she can’t open her mouth without lyin’ a blue streak. I wonder what on earth will ever become of her.

Quite a lot, as it turned out.

In time, plump little Daphne would grow up to be tall and willowy as a Texas sunflower, semi-pretty, and moderately clever.

On her sixteenth birthday, she left Alabama for the land of the Shining Mountains, entered the State of Colorado with great expectations, the state of holy matrimony with a Grand Junction banker who collected Burmese star sapphires and died—as she wrote to her mother “. . . on account of being run over by a green International Harvester lumber truck loaded with jack pine pallets.” Daphne wept as Thaddeus Silver was buried in the First Methodist Church cemetery, wore black silk and a downcast expression for eleven months before drifting westerly into Utah and reciting the vows of marriage with Mr. Raymond Oates, who was building up a fine herd of Herefords by burning his brand on other stockmen’s cattle. Each of these marriages produced a son, but sad to say—neither Ben Silver nor Raymond Oates, Jr. would exhibit the least manifestation of brotherly affection. Or even half brotherly affection.

• • •

This is how the troubles got started that (decades later) would plague Southern Ute Tribal Investigator Charlie Moon, an upright and amiable citizen, and his aunt Daisy Perika, who is anything but. (Amiable and upright, that is.) How does one describe the tribal elder?

Conniving is a word that comes to mind.

Irascible is another.

And then, there is her little eccentricity: Daisy talks to dead people.

Copyright © 2006 by James D. Doss. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2006

    intriguing Native American investigation

    On the Southern Ute Reservation in Colorado, tribal Ute shaman Daisy Perika is concerned with what this nightmare has shown her as she feels she has seen a vision of the future, but cannot tie her dream to a date and time and the place is vague. Still she is worried about the young female waif whose hands are dripping blood while a man lies dying nearby. She informs her nephew, tribal investigator and rancher Charlie Moon, on his weekly visit what she envisioned. Charlie knows how accurate his beloved Aunt Daisy is, but does not have enough information to do anything. --- Raymond Oates introduces himself to Sarah Frank as a half brother of a friend before giving her a book as a present. Not long afterward Sheriff Popper sees Sarah holding a Louisville Slugger with blood on her hands as psychic Ben Silver lies nearby dying. Before Popper can act, someone else hits him with a bat. Charlie and FBI Special Agent Lila Mae McTeague investigate, but Sarah has vanished with someone else besides the cops trying to find her for the book she carries is a valuable heirloom. --- The intriguing investigation in the latest Charlie Moon mystery starts a bit later than usual as James D. Doss sets in motion the key players and the significant (to this tale) Ute mysticism before Ben is killed. At that venture, the story line switches into more of a rescue Sarah saga than a murder investigation though the two scenarios are linked and converge in a delightful climax. Though lacking the humor of SHADOW MAN, fans of the series will enjoy Charlie¿s¿ current caper as Aunt Daisy avoids I told you so, but makes it clear he is to rescue Sarah or face her wrath. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

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  • Posted July 11, 2010

    Engaging and fun

    When I picked up Stone Butterfly I had never heard of the author or his leading character, Charlie Moon. The novel was an engaging and fun introduction.

    Moon is a Ute Indian and a lawman for the Southern Ute Tribe in SW Colorado, where he also owns a big ranch. His Aunt Daisy is an elder tribal shaman whose dreams are prescient but vague. When a distant cousin is accused of burglary and murder in a Utah town, and then disappears into thin air, Daisy knows things she can't tell and Charlie suspects things he cannot prove. Bribes, corruption, lies, and greed precipitate more deaths. But still the cousin is missing, along with a valuable heirloom.

    The characters are interesting and unique, and presented with dry wit. There were surprising plot twists, glimpses of romance, chase scenes, and suspense. I liked this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2008

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    Posted September 17, 2010

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