The Killing of Greybird
The Killing of Greybird contains Western, mystery, and Mormon inspirational elements. David Halliday, newly mustered out of the Union Army in 1865, returns to Utah to find that his adopted Native American brother, Greybird, has recently been murdered. The townspeople blame a hostile tribe, but David thinks another Mormon is responsible, and sets out to avenge his brother.
The mystery isn’t too hard to figure out—I guessed the murderer 100 pages from the end. The best part of the book was learning about pioneer life in Utah in the first decades of white settlement. Readers unacquainted with Mormon beliefs of the era will learn about practices such as using a “peep stone” for divination, and the Church encouraging the adoption of orphaned Native American children. I liked the realistic touch Swedin gives to a shootout scene, where the hero fires his rifle numerous times before hitting anyone. Although the author presents the Native American side of the Black Hawk War, the Mormon viewpoint predominates: “David knew that the Saints offered a better way of life… The nomadic Indians had nothing to show for a lifetime of work: no buildings, no towns, no permanent mark on the land.”