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    The Death Dealers
    David Griffith
    When Lonnie Bowers returns to the Reservation, he finds a grandfather he doesn't want, a brother he despises, and a sister addicted to crystal meth. He'd like to walk away. The Indian side of his heritage has never brought anything but pain, so why would he want more? But it's not that simple; not when it's in his power to strike a blow against La Familia, Mexico's largest producer of methamphetamines. Lonnie's had the best training any agent could have, but he never reckoned on the charismatic, twisted power of Nazario Moreno, and nobody told him that to stay alive--he'd have to pray.

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    book excerpt

    WHEN THAT BIG INDIAN hit me, I went down like he’d whacked me with the butt-end of a spruce tree. Only thing is, I was never much good at staying on the ground, so I shook the exploding stars out of my eyes, got my feet under me and gave him a proper lesson on respect for his elders. He just happened to be my brother, and until ten minutes earlier, I hadn’t even known I had one of those. Our introduction surely didn’t engender any of that feel-good fuzzy stuff you’re supposed to have in your heart for kinfolk.
    Gus picked himself out of the dirt for the second time, and I stepped forward to see if he needed a few more welts.
    He held up his hand and backed away. “Enough! I’m finished.”
    “Well, you shouldn’t have ever started.” I dropped my hands, my teeth still clenched with the roiling anger and distaste for this place. We glared at each other, and it was like I was looking over a high fence into a different world—a world I didn’t want to see. Why had I come? It surely wasn’t to pick a fight with some relative I had never seen.
    I’d asked myself that question a hundred times since early this morning when I’d been driving north, heading to the Canadian Finals. It would be my last big rodeo for the year. My satellite radio, tuned to a country station was banging out that old Bon Jovi number, something about there being no reason you can’t go home, so I at least partly blame them for my moment of derangement. My mouth twisted into a cynical smile. Just like the song, I’d spent a long time trying to run as far away as I could get from anything Indian. So why would I go back now?
    At the last possible second, I’d cut off the car behind me and ducked into the left-hand turn lane. He honked at me and I gave him an apologetic wave. In the rearview mirror I could see his mouth moving, and I don’t think he was blessing me with long life and good health.
    Ever since an old cowboy at the Williams Lake rodeo had stopped me and told me he’d known my mother up on the Rocky Point Reserve, the whole question of my heritage had bothered me. Who was she? Was she born there—buried there? Even if I had little use for that side of my ancestry, there was no other way to find answers to those nagging questions.
    An hour later, I’d jabbed at the radio off-button and cocked an eyebrow at a four by eight sheet of bedraggled plywood. According to the sign, I was now on Indian land. Shortly thereafter, the first government-built house filled my windshield. I slowed to a crawl, grimacing at humpy, snow-crusted yards, litter-strewn vacant lots and rusty, trashed vehicles.
    A log cabin stood alone on the far edge of town. An old man labored over a woodpile, his axe flashing into the dry pine blocks scattered around him. I pulled off the road and parked. His house and yard were neat, suspiciously free of clutter and derelict cars. The shake roof covered a full-length front veranda, empty except for a homebuilt willow rocker. The logs had been well cared for, recently sanded and oiled.
    The old fellow who wielded the axe wore a plaid scotch cap with the earflaps tied up. Suspenders crossed over a brown and white checked jac-shirt. His dark wool pants covered most of a pair of high-top moccasins encased in rubber slip-on overshoes. He looked ancient enough to have known some of my people; perhaps even my mother. The only memory I carried of her was from a blurred photograph I’d had when I was a kid. Somewhere in one of my many social services-orchestrated moves, the picture had disappeared, along with my trust of anything Indian.
    The old man straightened, leaned against the axe, and watched me walk up the freshly-shoveled path. Halfway to the woodpile, I spoke. “Good morning.”
    He nodded sagely. “Hello, Lonnie. I knew you would come home someday.”
    My mouth fell open. “You have the advantage on me, sir. I don’t recall when we met?” I kind of expected recognition anywhere rodeo was popular, but I didn’t reckon this backwoods reservation qualified.
    “You think we’re too far out in the bush to know a good bronc rider when we see one?” He had a few missing teeth, but it didn’t take away from his infectious grin.
    “Yeah, I guess I did.”
    His face turned serious again. “You might be right, but there is another reason I recognized you. I have known you since you were a baby.”
    “Oh-h?” My eyebrows rose. Time to be cautious here.
    The old man switched the axe to his other hand and shuffled his feet. “I am your grandfather.”
    I stuffed my thumbs in my pockets just to make sure there weren’t any dollar bills hanging over the edges. It went with the buckle. When you’re on top and you look like you have money, there’s a long-lost relative behind every stump. “Old-timer, I think you have the wrong guy—but it was great visiting with you. You have a good day.” I waved at the snow-covered woodpile. “Be careful with that axe.”
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