The Yard Dog
A Hook Runyon Mystery Book 1
St. Martin's Press (Minotaur Books)
September 1, 2009
Available in: e-Book, Trade Size
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.
Dr. Russell published his first novel, Empire, in 1993 with Evans Publications, Inc. He followed that suspense novel with two historic frontier titles—The Savage Trail (Pinnacle Books, 1993) and Requiem at Dawn (Pinnacle Books, 2000). Requiem at Dawn was a finalist for Best Original Paperback in the 2001 Western Writers of America, Inc., Spur Awards competition.
In 2006, the University of Oklahoma Press released Dreams to Dust: A Tale of the Oklahoma Land Rush, which was selected as an Official Oklahoma Centennial Project. It won both the Oklahoma Book Award for fiction and the Langum Prize for Historical Literature. With The Yard Dog: A Mystery (Minotaur Books, September 2009), Russell introduces the Hook Runyon series. The first book finds Hook investigating a murder at an Oklahoma railroad yard near a German POW camp during WWII. The Insane Train, second in the series, was selected as one of the six best mysteries of 2010 by Publishers Weekly.