Mystery Authors You May Have Missed
Margaret Coel


Margaret Coel was born in Denver in 1937 and has remained a Coloradan all of her life. Her deep love of the West and its past have had a great influence on her writing. She greatly enjoys the research of the Arapaho culture she does for her books, saying that many of her plots come “straight out of history.”

What she writes: Coel is responsible for the Wind River mystery series featuring Jesuit priest and ex-alcoholic Father John O’Malley and Arapaho lawyer Vicky Holden. The series is set in Wyoming on the Wind River Reservation and chronicles the struggles of the local population. Father John and Vicky have grown closer over the series, as they became involved in the crimes that occur there. The tension between the two adds to the intensity and complexity of the books and their relationship is one of the key factors in making the series so enjoyable. Sometimes compared to Tony Hillerman, Coel’s mysteries have a strong sense of place and history with believable and realistic characters and many details about the Arapho culture.


List of works
Father John and Vicky Holden Series
  Eagle Catcher (1995) Thunder Keeper (2001)
  Ghost Walker (1996) Shadow Dancer (2002)
  Dream Stalker (1997) Killing Raven (2003)
  Story Teller (1997) Wife of Moon (2004)
  Lost Bird (1999) Eye of the Wolf (2005)
  Spirit Woman (2000)  
  Chief Left Hand (1981)
A biography of one of the leaders of the Plains Indians in the mid-1800s, a man who was fluent in English and skilled in diplomacy.
  Goin' Railroading (1991)
The story of a century of railroading in the mountains and on the plains of Colorado.


Fellow at Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, 1981; By-Line Award, Marquette University, 1998; Best Nonfiction Book of the Year Award, National Association of Press Women, 1981, for Chief Left Hand: Southern Arapahoe; Top Hand Award for best nonfiction book by a Colorado Author, Colorado Authors League, 1986, for Goin' Railroading: A Century of the Colorado High Iron; Best Mystery Novel Award, Colorado Center for the Book, 2000, for The Spirit Woman, and 2002, for The Shadow Dancer; Willa (Cather) Award for Best Novel of the West, Women Writing the West, 2001, for The Spirit Woman; Colorado Authors League Award, 2003, for The Shadow Dancer.

What the critics say
“Delving into the depths of this magnificently crafted volume is like digging into your favorite layer cake-thoroughly delicious.” — Publishers Weekly, 8/1/05
“Riveting work from an accomplished author” — Library Journal, 8/1/05
“Coel draws readers into early Arapaho life as smoothly as she brings them into the sinister goings-on at present-day Wind River, masterfully blending authentic history with an ingenious plot.” — Publishers Weekly, 8/9/04


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