The Yard Dog

A Hook Runyon Mystery

Book 1
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The Yard Dog takes place near the close of World War II, when a large number of Nazi POWs were incarcerated in camps scattered across the prairies of the United States.

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.

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About the author

Dr. Sheldon Russell has taught at the University of Louisville and is professor emeritus at University of Central Oklahoma. He is the author of four previously published novels. Empire, a suspense novel; two historic frontier novels, The Savage Trail and Requiem at Dawn, which was voted a Finalist in the 2001 Western Writers of America, Inc. Spur Awards competition; and Dreams to Dust: A Tale of the Oklahoma Land Rush, which won the 2006 Langum Prize for Excellence in American Historical Fiction and the 2007 Oklahoma Book Award for Fiction and was selected as an Official Oklahoma Centennial Project. He lives in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

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3.9
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Additional Information

Publisher
Minotaur Books
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Published on
Sep 1, 2009
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781429929165
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Historical
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In her sixth engrossing outing, Jane Austen employs her delicious wit and family ties to the Royal Navy in a case of murder on the high seas. Somewhere in the picturesque British port of Southampton, among a crew of colorful, eccentric, and fiercely individual souls, a killer has come ashore. And only Jane can fathom the depths of his ruthless mind....

Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House

“I will assert that sailors are endowed with greater worth than any set of men in England.”

So muses Jane Austen as she stands in the buffeting wind of Southampton’s quay beside her brother Frank on a raw February morning. Frank, a post captain in the Royal Navy, is without a ship to command, and his best prospect is the Stella Maris, a fast frigate captained by his old friend Tom Seagrave.

“Lucky” Tom — so dubbed for his habit of besting enemy ships — is presently in disgrace, charged with violating the Articles of War. Tom’s first lieutenant, Eustace Chessyre, has accused Seagrave of murder in the death of a French captain after the surrender of his ship.

Though Lucky Tom denies the charge, his dagger was found in the dead man’s chest. Now Seagrave faces court-martial and execution for a crime he swears he did not commit.

Frank, deeply grieved, is certain his friend will hang. But Jane reasons that either Seagrave or Chessyre is lying — and that she and Frank have a duty to discover the truth.

The search for the captain’s honor carries them into the troubled heart of Seagrave’s family, through some of the seaport’s worst sinkholes, and at long last to Wool House, the barred brick structure that serves as gaol for French prisoners of war.

Risking contagion or worse, Jane agrees to nurse the murdered French captain’s imprisoned crew — and elicits a debonair surgeon’s account of the Stella Maris’s battle that appears to clear Tom Seagrave of all guilt.

When Eustace Chessyre is found murdered, the entire affair takes on the appearance of an insidious plot against Seagrave, who is charged with the crime. Could any of his naval colleagues wish him dead? In an era of turbulent intrigue and contested amour, could it be a case of cherchez la femme ... or a veiled political foe at work? And what of the sealed orders under which Seagrave embarked that fateful night in the Stella Maris? Death knocks again at Jane’s own door before the final knots in the killer’s net are completely untangled.

Always surprising, Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House is an intelligent and intriguing mystery that introduces Jane and her readers to “the naval set” — and charts a true course through the amateur sleuth’s most troubled waters yet.
On a fateful day in 1889, the Oklahoma land rush begins, and for thousands of settlers the future is up for grabs. One of those people is Creed McReynolds, fresh from the East with a lawyer’s education and a head full of aspirations. The mixed-blood son of a Kiowa mother and a U.S. Cavalry doctor, Creed lands in Guthrie station, the designated Territorial Capital, where he must prove that he is more than the half-blood kid once driven from his own land.

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.

Life couldn’t be worse for archaeology grad student Jim Hunt. Having lost his funding at a major midwestern university, and his partner, he desperately needs a breakthrough to revitalize his work and his life. Could a summer dig in map-dot Lyons, Kansas, jumpstart his fledgling career? Out of options, he packs his bags.

Five hundred years earlier, Spanish conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado faces a desperate journey of his own through New World terrain. He must find the legendary golden city of Quivira. But can he trust the mysterious “Turk,” his Indian guide?

Jim and Coronado’s stories interweave in The Dig, intersecting at a fateful point.

Things don’t improve for Jim with his first steps in Lyons—and his trespass upon an ancient mausoleum. His curiosity angers the locals—including Eva, a striking but no-nonsense museum worker Jim is instantly drawn to. A local tough, Mitch Keeper—enforcer for a reclusive, wealthy landowner—seems to go out of his way to harass Jim. The sheriff thinks nothing of throwing him in jail. And then the seemingly innocuous dig turns deadly.

It’s not much better for the conquistador. After days of wandering through dusty lands with no food or water, Coronado and his men are dying. Still, the Turk beckons them on. To continue means death. But to return empty-handed is equally unbearable . . .

Sheldon Russell ratchets the tension and mystery in both narratives as Jim and Coronado close in on—or are eluded by—what they seek. Along the way, the author’s research and craftsmanship shine through. Coronado’s carefully rendered, formal speech contrasts with the casual dialogue authentic to the plains today. Even minor characters, from Stufflebaum, Lyons’s prankster taxidermist, to the inscrutable Turk leap from the page. A historical fiction thrill ride that builds to an Indiana Jones–style standoff, The Dig forces its characters—and readers—to grapple with an age-old proverb: all that glitters is not gold.
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