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'The Bowie Secret' more than murder mystery

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Author and attorney Bob Balch's latest novel "The Bowie Secret" is much more than a murder mystery. The reader realizes almost immediately from the moment Sheriff Bob Elliott discovers the body of victim Jonas Bowie with an arrow piercing his heart that this mystery will include an odyssey not only through Texas, but also Native American history.

Called to the home of neighbor Jonas Bowie by the report of something unusual, Elliott sees an arrow sticking into the gatepost. That's only a hint of what is to come. When the sheriff enters the home of Bowie, he discovers his friend dead with another arrow piercing his heart.

Elliott's investigation leads the reader on a journey through Texas history back to legend Jim Bowie. The murder victim is a descendant of Jim Bowie who is an icon for many reasons. Through the investigation of Elliott, Balch leads the reader on a fascinating tale which includes references to Bowie's death at the most famous of all Texas battles......the Alamo. The reader also learns that Bowie was famous for a lot more than dying at the Alamo.

Balch disclosed that Bowie once killed a sheriff in self-defense in the famous Battle of the Sandbar. And of course his weapon of choice was the knife which bears his name.

Anyone who is interested in history will love this book which also follows the trail of the Lipan Apache tribe. Balch said in an interview that unlike their hated enemies the Comanches, the Apaches split up. The book includes an interesting view into the Mescalero Apaches as well as the Lipans. Because the Comanches were united, they were stronger than the Apaches and had a numerical advantage.

Balch, who is a serious student of history, further said another reason the Comanches were ultimately able to defeat the Apaches was the fact they were superior horsemen.

Balch delves into Apache history through the murder weapon used in this murder. When Elliott discovers the three feathers on the arrow are the signature of the Lipan Apaches, he is able to narrow down his list of possible suspects.

But before Elliott can determine the identity of the actual murderer, he has to find a motive. And to do that he must travel back through the family history of Jim Bowie which leads him back to the victim in this case.

In this his seventh book, Balch skillfully weaves the mystery and history genres into a tapestry which produces a page-turning read for anyone interested in either area. In this book he is also able to employ his legal expertise to help Sheriff Elliott solve the murder.

His previous books include four works of historical fiction. "The Brazos Connection" tells the story of a hunter who discovers a great Christian artifact on the Brazos River. His second book "Bridgetown on the Red" relates the story of two neighbors on the Red River caught in in the great oil boom of 1919.

Balch's third book is "Treasure of the Wichita" and tells the story of a treasure buried at the falls of the Wichita River. He also includes Native Americans in this book as a member of the Wichita tribe is a major character.

In his sixth book "Maroon Paint" he veered into a different genre as he combined with Commerce, Texas attorney Charles E. Perry to relate the dramatic story of the Texas A&M football program from 1964-1968. This was the era when Gene Stallings returned to the College Station campus and led the Aggies to victory over Alabama in the Cotton Bowl against mentor Bear Bryant.

For himself, Balch is something of a Renaissance Man. He graduated from Baylor University with an accounting degree and also earned a law degree from the Waco campus. He was smart enough to be hired by one of the Big Eight accounting firms where he worked before practicing law in a wide variety of areas. He is also an avid sports fan and excited by the fact Coach Art Briles has led his beloved Baylor Bear football team to uprecedented heights of glory in recent years.

Bob and his wife Deborah live in Wichita Falls. They have two sons who are both doctors.

With seven published books under his belt, readers will be glad to know Balch said he is already thinking about his next writing venture.

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