pursuing daisy garfield

by Otis Bulfinch

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"Ozarks tale meanders through mystery like a trail through lovely hills." -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“You live in a dreamland, Mr. Crawford. I may enter the Kingdom, but unless everyone else enters, nothing will change. I can walk around smiling with a parasol over my shoulder, expecting men to tip their hats and women to ask me to tea, but all I’ll get is what I’ve always gotten: lust on the one hand and envy on the other. All people are liars! How many times do I have to say that?”

 “No! That ain’t so! There are women who sit by the bedsides of their dyin’ husbands and parents who tend their crippled children and friends who laugh together and play guitars and horseshoes. There are men who spend their days and their body’s strength to care for their families hopin’ for nothin’ but a decent burial in the end. Love and loyalty and kindness are real. And you know that! You know that because you had those with John.”        

The beautiful and enigmatic Daisy Garfield occupies the center of this tale about a woman’s search for meaning in the 19th century Ozarks backwoods.  Resourceful beyond her years, Daisy fends off the predatory advances of a teacher, a preacher, and a corrupt lawman in strikingly violent ways. Her resources come to an end when her husband John accidentally splits his shin with an axe. When gangrene sets in, she asks a passing trapper, William Crawford, to end John’s suffering. In the vain hope that Daisy will give herself to him, William consents to kill her husband, an act that plunges him into guilt and self-recrimination.

Crawford’s misgivings take an unexpected turn when a group of hardscrabble homesteaders enlist him in their search for John’s killer. When they discover not just one, but two rotted corpses, the mystery deepens for them all. Meanwhile, Daisy undergoes her own search for peace and security as she navigates alone the dangers of the Ozarks. As intelligent as she is beautiful, Daisy struggles to reconcile the claims of religion with the evils inflicted upon her.

Pursuing Daisy Garfield is at once a mystery and a profound meditation on the hope that “beauty will save the world.” Written in the backwoods vernacular of the Ozarks, readers will be reminded of the gritty and elegiac writing found in the novels of Cormac McCarthy.

"Ozarks tale meanders through mystery like a trail through lovely hills. Starting down the road is easy and well worth it."  St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Publication Date: May 9, 2023 

410 pages

$19.95 trade paperback; ISBN: 979-8-9866178-0-0

$9.99 ebook; ISBN: 979-8-9866178-1-7

Distributors: Ingram, Baker & Taylor


About the Author

Otis Bulfinch is a native Ozarker from northwest Arkansas. As an undergraduate, he studied American literature and subsequently earned a Master of Arts degree in Folk Culture. He began his teaching career in public education in 1973, and he also learned to play the fiddle. Upon his retirement, Otis and his wife, Ellie, settled near Fayetteville, Arkansas, where they live with their two cats, Smith and Wesson. Pursuing Daisy Garfield is his debut novel.




"Pursuing Daisy Garfield echoes with the same searching tones of religion and humanity that infused The Shepherd of the Hills. Exploring the same White River country that provided the backdrop of Harold Bell Wright's classic novel more than a century ago."

—Dr. Brooks Blevins, Noel Boyd Professor of Ozark Studies, Missouri State University. Author of A History of the Ozarks in three volumes, and several other books.

"Pursuing Daisy Garfield uses the language and lore of nineteenth-century hill country to tell a tale as morally fraught as a backwoods tent revival and as filled with the pleasures of the unexpected as a float trip down a spring-fed Ozark stream."

—Barry Bergey, retired former Director of Folk & Traditional Arts at the National Endowment for the Arts and co-founder of Missouri Friends of the Folk Arts

"Pursuing Daisy Garfield is a mystery story with a strong sense of place, mixed with old-time religion and meditations about life itself. At the center of it all is Daisy Garfield, whose stunning features bewitch and attract men from the time of her youth. Musings on truth, beauty, heaven and hell all come together. Starting down the road is easy and well worth it."  —St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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