Never Name the Dead

Crooked Lane. Nov. 2022. 336p. . ISBN 9781639101276. $28.99. M
DEBUT Mud’s grandfather raised her to be the next story keeper of the Kiowas in Oklahoma, but when she was ridiculed because she didn’t look like a typical Kiowa, she fled to California, where she built a successful business in Silicon Valley, telling stories for companies. Her grandfather’s phone call saying come home sounds urgent, though, so she catches the first flight. He doesn’t meet her at the airport, but several tribal elders are there looking for him. Instead of her grandfather, she finds a tribe in trouble. Fracking is stealing their water, and their ancestral treasures are sold for necessary cash. And Mud’s own grandfather is accused of stealing the tribe’s prized Jefferson Peace Medal. When she finds a body in his house, Mud sets out to find her grandfather. It’s her quest as she travels on foot, evades a wild boar, encounters a buffalo, and finds her way home to her people.
VERDICT The mystery is secondary in this debut wrapped in Kiowa history, stories, and culture. This novel is slow-paced, but a perfect fit for a story keeper account. Recommended for readers of David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s Winter Counts.
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