Hornswoggled is the second mystery (following The Old Buzzard Had It Coming) in Donis Casey’s series featuring Alafair Tucker, a farmwife and mother of ten in 1913 Oklahoma. Alafair’s 18-year-old daughter, the beautiful, headstrong Alice, has fallen for the wealthy, charming Walter Kelley, a recent widower whose wife’s body has been found stabbed with a kitchen knife in the creek on the Tucker family’s property. Walter, always a ladies’ man, might have wished to be rid of his wife in order to marry again, but he was in Kansas City on the night of the murder. Still, Alafair wonders if he hired someone to do it for him. She sets out to discover whether or not her daughter is in love with a killer.
This is a successful follow-up to the first book in Casey’s series, which was one of my favorite mysteries of last year. It is rich in authentic period detail from a time when traditional frontier life was slowly giving way to the modern age. The characters, several of whom are based on people from Casey’s family, are warm and deeply human. This series will certainly appeal to fans of Little House on the Prairie.