In recounting the precipitous rise and catastrophic fall of the jerrybuilt city of Guthrie, author Sheldon Russell immerses us in the lives of Creed and other memorable characters whose ambitions echo the taming of the frontier—and whose fates hold lessons as important today as they were more than a hundred years ago.
Among the people McReynolds must contend with is Abaddon Damon. A ruthless newspaper publisher, Abaddon is quick to strike any bargain that will bring him the power he craves, and like many others, Creed McReynolds is swept into his whirlwind of greed and deception. Creed becomes the wealthiest man in the Territory—but at an unbearable cost to himself, the dreams of others, and the dignity of his mother’s people.
Dreams to Dust takes readers back to the early days of Oklahoma Territory—a sometimes dangerous place filled with nefarious dealings, where violence lurks behind even casual encounters—to tell the story of frontier men and women gambling everything to find their fortune on the windswept southern plains.
Sheldon Russell is the author of several novels, including Dreams to Dust: A Tale of the Oklahoma Land Rush, which won the Oklahoma Book Award for fiction.
At Waynoka Divisional Point, near POW Camp Alva, the disillusioned Hook Runyon is assigned by the railroad to run off hobos and arrest pickpockets. Left behind in the war because of the loss of his arm in a car accident, Hook lives in a caboose, collects rare books, and drinks busthead liquor. When a coal picker by the name of Spark Dugan is found run over by a reefer car, Hook and his sidekick, Runt, the local moonshiner, suspect foul play and are drawn into a scheme far greater than either could have imagined. This conspiracy reaches the highest echelons of the camp and beyond and will push Hook and Runt to their physical and mental limits.
Hook is a complex character, equal parts rough and vulnerable, an unlikely and unwilling hero. He is more than matched by Dr. Reina Kaplan, a Jewish big-city transplant to Camp Alva who is battling her own demons and has been put in charge of educating the Nazi inmates in the basics of democracy before their eventual return to Germany.
Vivid descriptions of period detail, stark landscapes, and unique characters make this first book in the Hook Runyon series a fascinating mystery full of tension and deep insight.
With the casket in tow, and slowed down by an over-educated sidekick, Junior Monroe, and a stream of new tasks from the head of division, Hook finally finds his way to Carmen, Oklahoma. But no one there has ever heard of anyone named Samuel Ash. There are secrets in Carmen, most of them associated with the local orphanage and its disliked director, and Hook is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery of the hanging of Samuel Ash.
Vivid characterizations, searing descriptions, and a twisty plot make Sheldon Russell's The Hanging of Samuel Ash a gripping read.
Near the end of WWII, Hook Runyon, railroad bull, and his dog, Mixer, are sent to the West Salvage Yard in the high desert of Arizona. Not far away is the Johnson Canyon Tunnel. Though remote and ordinary as tunnels go, it is the gateway to the steepest railroad grade in North America and a potential bottleneck for the delivery of war supplies. So vital is this tunnel to the war effort that a twenty-four hour military guard has been assigned for the duration. Hook's orders are to catch copper thieves and to stay out of sight and out of trouble. But things go awry when Hook receives a call that one of the guards has been killed mid-tunnel by an oncoming train. Lieutenant Allison Capron from the Army Transportation Department is called in to help with the investigation. At first, suicide by train is suspected, but the evidence soon suggests homicide resulting from a love triangle. Unable to fit his own findings into either of these theories, Hook suspects something more sinister.