EskieMama & Dragon Lady Sunday Spotlight w/Giveaway: Geronimo Must Die by J.R. Lindermuth
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Geronimo Must Die
by J.R. Lindermuth
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by J.R. Lindermuth
Geronimo and rascally half-breed Indian scout Mickey Free have never been friends.
Yet, Mickey has already saved Geronimo's life twice (without acknowledgement) and is the only one who can keep the great Apache leader out of the sniper's sights now. The sniper has already murdered several tribal leaders and Mickey believes it's all a plot to prompt a great runaway from the hated San Carlos reservation.
Mickey's efforts are stymied by Al Sieber, head of scouts, and John Clum, reservation agent, as well as suspicion of other Indians. Adding to his problems, Mickey is in love with a girl whose name he keeps forgetting to ask and who may be allied to the plot.
Only perseverance, risk to his life and, eventually, Geronimo's help will enable Mickey to resolve this dangerous situation.
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Tell us about Geronimo Must Die.
The novel takes place in the 1870s on and around the San Carlos reservation in Arizona. Mickey Free, a half-breed Indian scout, discovers a plot to assassinate tribal leaders to prompt a breakaway from the hated reservation. Geronimo is the next target and Mickey is the only one who can save him, despite a lack of assistance from Army and reservation officials. Making the task even more difficult is Mickey’s infatuation with a beautiful Indian maiden who may somehow be involved.
What initially inspired you to write Geronimo Must Die?
History and mystery have always been my inspiration and this story incorporates both.
Tell us little about the characters in Geronimo Must Die.
Mickey, Geronimo, Sieber, Clum and some other characters did exist. Some, including Beauty and the Prophet, are products of my imagination. The horrid conditions at San Carlos did inspire a number of breakouts. Both the real Mickey and Geronimo are fascinating characters in their own right. Various sources as part Irish, Mexican or Indian. His kidnap by a band of Apache did lead to a tragic war. After his service as a scout, he married, fathered a number of children and lived out his days on another reservation.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Every story has its own challenges. The biggest when writing about characters who actually existed is staying within the bounds of possibility and not blundering to the extent of being called out by readers.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The whole book was fun to write. I think I may have enjoyed writing Chapter 11 best as Mickey gets closer to Dee-zho-ne and visits the Yavapai camp to try and learn more of her history.
What are your future project(s)?
Another Western and the eighth novel in a contemporary mystery series are with publishers. I’m currently working on a ninth in the series.
The first shot raised a cloud of dust between our feet. Flinging myself against Geronimo, I knocked him to the ground and covered his body with my own. The second shot struck and crackled into the framework of the wickiup. After a moment of silence and no more shots, Geronimo barked, “Get off me, fool.”
I complied. We rose, surrounded by a crowd of muttering warriors who’d been summoned by the shooting. The rifle fire came from a bluff above the camp and a number of men hurried off in that direction. They wouldn’t find the sniper. Having failed in his mission, I knew he was long gone.
For the second time, I’d saved Geronimo’s life. He seemed no more grateful than he had the first time. Brushing himself off, he inquired if those within the wickiup were unharmed. Assured of the safety of his family, he turned to me. “Why are you here?”
Sieber had sent me. A fool’s mission, though I hadn’t told him so. I learned a long time ago not to argue with Al Sieber.
Dawn on a frosty morning. Steam rising from the coats of the horses in the corrals. The boys watching the horses huddled with their arms clasped around themselves or blowing on their hands for a little warmth. Dry grass crackled underfoot. We were all hoping for an early spring. Winter was never easy at San Carlos and this had been no exception.
Arriving at Geronimo’s wickiup, I coughed loudly in hope those within would acknowledge my presence. It’s not our way to barge into another person’s home without invitation. I waited patiently. The only sound from within a series of grunts and squeals of delight. Geronimo rutting with one of his younger wives.
Another sound attracted my attention. She, the lovely one, had just emerged from the next hut with a water jug in hand. After a quick smile, she lowered her head and set off for the stream. As I watched, the older woman came out and gave me a sour glance which made me avert my gaze from the sweetly swaying rump of the departing younger one.
“The old lady would cut your heart out if she knew what you were thinking,” Geronimo said as he stooped and came out to stand beside me. I could only blush.
For a good twenty years or more--from the time the Mexicans killed his family and set him on a path of vengeance until John Clum brought him in without firing a shot--Geronimo had been the scourge of the West.
Yet, for those seeing him for the first time, Geronimo presents an unimpressive aspect. There is little at first glance to separate him from the average indio. His round face, framed by a mop of dark hair, is sun-ravaged and stern of expression. His dark gimlet eyes are like those of a sidewinder and his mouth is a wide slash turned down at the edges.
Spend a minute in his presence, though, and you'll realize power radiates from this man like heat from a stove. You need to step back to keep it from burning you.
“What do you want, Mickey Free?” he asked.
I hesitated, seeking the right way to broach Sieber’s question. Like most White Eyes, Al thought Geronimo would answer my questions just because we’re both Apache. He didn’t understand Geronimo is Bedonkohe and I was raised Coyoteros, what you people call a White Mountain Apache. Our peoples have been allies and enemies at various times. And, Geronimo knows my background. Sieber does, too, though maybe he’d forgotten. Not only am I a scout who’s assisted the Americans in making trouble for Geronimo and his people, I’m also a half-breed. We’re not enemies. Nor are we friends--despite the fact I've now saved his life for a second time.
Geronimo stared at me with all the friendliness of a rattler. I noticed he’d aged in the months he'd spent at San Carlos. The skin stretched taut over his wide face was scoured with wrinkles, his hair was shot with gray, his broad shoulders were stooped and there was a dimness in his dark eyes. San Carlos is hard on people. So it had been since the winter of 1875 when Al brought the Yavapai and Tonto here. The clans brought in later have fared no better. Many people have died, and Sieber has not been forgiven.
The shooting started before I had a chance to speak.