Thursday, March 7, 2013

James D. Doss (1939-2011)

For several months, I've been on my library's waiting list, anxiously anticipating the arrival of James D. Doss's latest mystery novel, The Old Gray Wolf. Alas, the first thing I read on the book jacket last night was that my favorite mystery writer had passed away. I can hardly bring myself to read this 17th and final installment.

James D. Doss was born and raised in Kentucky. He was an electrical engineer who worked on particle accelerators and biomedical technology at the Los Alamos National Laboratory while writing his novels. After retiring in 1999, he continued writing until his death in Los Alamos on May 17, 2012. Doss authored 17 “Charlie Moon Mysteries,” the first published in 1994, and the last of which was completed shortly before his death.

Doss thoroughly researched the background for his books about Southern Colorado and the Ute tribe in particular. Each story centers around tribal investigator Charlie Moon and his irascible but endearing Aunt Daisy, his only living family. Doss's tales are enriched by humorous descriptions of Charlie's devotion to his snappish and shameless aunt. But they also recount the enduring friendship between Charlie and his best "pardner," Granite Creek's chief of police, Scott Parris, with whom Charlie shares his investigations. And these relationships are what I will miss most.

Informed by a sincere respect for the culture and myths of the Utes, Doss mixed local culture, compelling narrative, and sly humor to make his books favorites among fans of the genre and readers of all kinds. Sadly, that has come to an end all too soon.

Thanks for giving us such satisfying and memorable stories. May they live on.

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