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The Bonepicker, A Sam Chitto Mystery
Lu Clifton, author
It’s bitter cold in Oklahoma’s Ouachita Wilderness when Detective Sam Chitto of the Choctaw Tribal Police takes on a thirty-five year old cold case involving a missing Vietnam vet and murdered couple. The discovery of a man’s skull in the casket of the murdered woman, which her family had disinterred for further investigation, attracts the attention of the Vietnam veteran’s mother. Believing the skull to be that of her son, she tasks Chitto with becoming a Bonepicker. Because bones survived flesh, Choctaw of old preserved the bones of their deceased, believing their essence dwelled within. Honored people, called Bonepickers, retrieved the bones for the family. When his preliminary investigation reveals former suspects in the murder investigation have a shorter-than-average life span, Chitto goes looking for the reason. As he unravels the mystery, long-held secrets that have kept county residents living in terror the past thirty-five years begin to tumble. Fulfilling his role as Bonepicker, Chitto returns the bones to the family. However, the killer is above the law. Or so it seems. A macabre twist at the end ensures that justice prevails. Incidents in the Vietnam conflict and the long-term effects of warfare on the four veterans in the story add depth.