Where They Bury You


Cover by Veronica Zhu

In August 1863, during Kit Carson’s roundup of the Navajo, Santa Fe’s Provost Marshal, Major Joseph Cummings, is found dead in an arroyo near what is now the Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado, Arizona. The murder, as well the roughly million of today’s dollars in cash and belongings in his saddlebags, is historically factual. Carson’s explanation that he was shot by a lone Indian, which, even today, can be found in the U.S. Army Archives, is implausible.

Who did kill Carson’s “brave and lamented” Cummings? The answer is revealed in this tale of a group of con artists operating in 1861–1863 in the New Mexico and Arizona Territories. As a matter of historical fact, millions of today’s dollars were embezzled from the Army, the Church, and the New Mexico Territory during this time. In this fictionalized version, the group includes the aide de camp of the Territories’ Commanding General of the Union Army, a poker dealer with a checkered past in love with one of her co-conspirators, and the Provost Marshal of Santa Fe. It is an epic tale of murder and mystery, of staggering thefts, of love and deceit.

Both a Western and a Civil War novel, this murder mystery occurs in and among Cochise’s Chiricahua Apache Wars, the Navajo depredations and wars, Indian Agent Kit Carson’s return to action from retirement, and the Civil War. The story follows the con artists, some historical, some fictional, during their poker games, scams, love affairs, and bank robberies, right into that arroyo deep in the heart of Navajo country.

“In this rough-and-tumble frontier story, endless layers of deceit up the ante and interest.” Kirkus Reviews

“…Kohlhagen avoids all the traps and clichés of typical Westerns and keeps true to his story. All in all, Where They Bury You is a very impressive novel for fans of Westerns and even for those who are not fans of Westerns. It has a universal appeal. Definitely a quality read. 4.5 stars.” – Author-Alliance

Steve Kohlhagen knows the West, knows his history, and combines them here into a fast-paced, irresistible story!” Bernard Cornwell 



Geronimo (right) and Three Friends

Manuelito, Navajo Chief

Cochise bronze bust by Betty Butts (contributed by André Kozimor)

General James H. Carleton

Kit Carson

Barboncito, Navajo Chief

Map Final for Kohlhagen

Map Contributed by Lori Johnson


East Side of Plaza, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1866 – – Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, NMHM/DCA, Negative No. 038178

July 9 Clouds over Navajo Peak 5

Storm Over the San Juan Mountains By the Jicarilla Apache Reservation
Photo by Kerry Howard

General Edward R. S. Canby

General Henry H. Sibley

Colonel Kit Carson

Published by Sunstone Press, September 2, 2013

Blog at WordPress.com.