The Native Americans I Borrow From for my Tempe Crabtree Series—and a Contest!

Marilyn & her daughter, Dana

Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Raging Water from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is No Bells, the forth from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at and follow her blog at

Marilyn borrows a lot from where she lives in the Southern Sierra for the fictional town of Bear Creek and the surrounding area.

The Tule River Indian Reservation is near my home. I can look out my back window and see the mountain that is part of the reservation. This reservation has the most acreage of any in California and may encompass the most beautiful scenery, including Giant Sequoia trees. Of course they have a casino, Eagle Mountain, which is tucked away in the valley where the majority of the native people live.

The casino has helped this tribe tremendously. And the casino has helped the town of Porterville too since many non-Indians have jobs there too. The tribe is generous with their money, giving to many local charities and helping in many other ways too. They provide busses for our annual two day Apple Festival to transport visitors from the rodeo grounds parking lot to the festival and back again. They’ve donated money to our church to send kids to camp. Indian children, whether they live on the reservation or not, receive free medical care.

It hasn’t always been good for this particular tribe. After having the whole valley and the mountains to hunt and fish, after some horrific events, the Indians were herded onto a reservation at the east end of what is Porterville today where they learned to farm. As the city grew, the other people who lived in the town didn’t like being so close to the reservation. The Indians were forced to move far from town onto a new reservation. There was no electricity until the ‘60s. There were no doctors or stores. It was a long way to town to shop and seek medical help. Times were tough until the casino became a reality.

The majority of the Indians on the reservation are Yokuts, but there are representatives of other tribes too. And you notice I’ve been calling these people Indians; that’s because that’s what they call themselves.

Though I’ve based the Indians in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series on this particular tribe, I changed the name because I like to say that I’m just “borrowing” from them. Of course when I’m selling my books at an event in the area, I’ve had Indians come up to me and say, “You’re the one who writes about us.” And yes, I am, though I usually add, “Sort of.”

I’ve written about their pow wows, and used some of their legends and ceremonials in my mysteries. I’ve visited the reservation many times including the Painted Rock and the pictographs of the Hairy Man and his family. Many new services have been added to the community like health facilities, a day care center, their own police department and much more.

When I write about Tempe Crabtree who is part-Indian and her good friend Nick Two John, also an Indian, and the people who live on the Bear Creek Reservation, I’m writing about people who feel real to me and I hope will to the reader, but they came from my imagination.

In my latest book, Raging Water, Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s investigation of the murder of two close friends is complicated when relentless rain turns Bear Creek into a raging river. Homes are inundated and a mud slide blocks the only road out of Bear Creek stranding many—including the murderer.

I know there are some people who like to read a series in order, but let me reassure you that every book is complete. Though the characters grow through each book, the crime is always solved. Here is the order of the books for anyone who wants to know: Deadly Trail, Deadly Omen, Unequally Yoked, Intervention, Wing Beat, Calling the Dead, Judgment Fire, Kindred Spirits, Dispel the Mist, Invisible Path, Bears With Us, Raging Water.

A Nifty Contest!

The person who leaves comments on the most blogs during

this blog tour will have his/her name used for a character in

my next book—can choose if you want it in a Deputy

Tempe Crabtree mystery or a Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel.