I find it interesting how authors find their inspiration for the books that they write. Author Steven W. Kohlhagen‘s new book, Where They Bury You, found its inspiration in the 1863 death of one Major Joseph Cummings. During one of Kit Carson’s raids / campaigns, Cummings charged ahead of the main column (according to Carson) and was found dead on the canyon floor when the main body finally reached him. The big mystery was why Cummings had $4,200 in cash on his person. (See Hampton Sides’, Blood and Thunder, page 341 for a brief account.)
Kohlhagen has taken this event and woven an interesting, fast paced, historical novel that combines Civil War New Mexico / Arizona, white Americans, Native Americans, and Mexicans sticky relationships to one another. Along the way we meet con artists and card sharks; historical figures such as Kit Carson, Cochise, Geronimo, Kit Carson, and others. Not to give away the plot, but this is a Western that tells the tales of hostage taking, Indian wars, and gamblers’ who come up with a scheme for getting rich. A gripping Western told on the eve of the Civil War in the Arizona and New Mexico Territories.
The book is a good, quick read. While it is a historical novel, the history serves as a background for the events of real (and no so real) life people. The historical details add color, there is no “data dump” here. Kohlhagen does an excellent job of placing the “smaller” story in the context of the larger picture. So if you are looking for a fun read, I highly recommend Where They Bury You.