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Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus

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"A historical fiction comedy that packs as much heart as humor."
-Michael Dadich, award-winning author of The Silver Sphere

When a Harvard history professor receives a thesis paper titled Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus, from Ulysses Hercules Baxter-an underwhelming student-he assumes the paper must be a prank. He has never read such maniacal balderdash in his life. But after he calls a meeting with the student, Professor Gladstone is dismayed when Baxter declares the work is his own. As he ...

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"A historical fiction comedy that packs as much heart as humor."
-Michael Dadich, award-winning author of The Silver Sphere

When a Harvard history professor receives a thesis paper titled Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus, from Ulysses Hercules Baxter-an underwhelming student-he assumes the paper must be a prank. He has never read such maniacal balderdash in his life. But after he calls a meeting with the student, Professor Gladstone is dismayed when Baxter declares the work is his own. As he takes a very unwilling Professor Gladstone back in time via his thesis, Baxter's grade hangs in the balance as he attempts to prove his theory.

It is 1864 as philanderer and crusader Captain Coytus embarks on a mission to avenge his father's death and infiltrates the Confederate Bushwacker posse looking for the man responsible, Jesse Woodson James. Accompanied by the woman of his dreams, Coytus soon finds himself temporarily appointed to be the sheriff of Booneville and commissions his less-than-loyal deputy to help him carry out his plan.

But when tragedy strikes, the Captain is forced to change his immature ways and redefine his lofty mission-more or less.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781491710500
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 11/11/2013
  • Pages: 470
  • Sales rank: 1,286,906
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus

By Alex J. Mueck

iUniverse LLC

Copyright © 2013 Alex J. Mueck
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4917-1048-7


Present Day

It had to be a practical joke.

Professor Gladstone peered at his prized book collection through horn-rimmed glasses and scratched his sparsely covered scalp. He'd already methodically searched every other square inch of his Harvard office in Robinson Hall. Thus far, the only unaccounted thing he'd uncovered was a used marijuana joint in a carinated pottery bowl dating back to Stonehenge; it had been in the room for over a hundred years. The used narcotic was certainly not his. He supposed it might have been left behind by someone who'd cleaned the office at some point over the past century. If he had to guess the culprit, it was probably a professor during the 1960s. Horrible decade. Back then, the faculty was full of hippie stoners.

They could have gone all-out and planted a camera, and a listening device was possible. With today's technology, stealth devices could be miniature, as fine as a fiber optic wire. Yet he doubted they would have gone through all the trouble to get something overly sophisticated. Besides, nothing looked out of order. No sudden appearance of a clock on the wall with a secret camera lens inside or a newly mounted, two-way mirror.

The faculty knew better than to mess with his rare collection of books and plant a monitoring device between book bindings. The cracked leather binding of Ptolemy's Cosmography winked out from the glass-encased shelf. Only two copies in private collections existed, and the book was valued at close to $750,000. In total, his personal rare book collection was insured at over $3 million and was protected with a security alarm, something well known across campus.

No secret monitoring devices had been found.

What now? In fifteen minutes, a student of his, Ulysses Hercules Baxter, would be here. How was he to play this?

Gladstone believed Baxter's ruse had to be a clandestine Harvard custom of which he was unaware. Some secret fraternal ritual orchestrated by the faculty elite. He wondered if every new Harvard chairman was subjected to such an elaborate prank, or whether this was the product of the twisted academic minds in the history department.

A month before, Gilda Busby, the department chair, had been killed. She'd been in Bahrain, researching a book on the social impact of Western technology on Islam, when she was crushed under the weight of a camel as it tried to mate with her.

Gladstone was saddened by the news and later horrified when a student spammed an e-mail prank referencing the camel and part of the foot anatomy. Sick, perverted bastards. Yet her death left a vacancy for the chairman of the department, and Gladstone was the anointed heir-to-be.

Gladstone peered down at his desk and focused on the centerpiece of the charade: Ulysses Baxter's thesis paper. It was a hoax, but unlike The Hitler Diaries, the thesis was so preposterous that it offered no pretense of legitimacy. Baxter was the perfect setup man. He was not some fourth-generation Harvard blue blood whose credibility would have been blown were he to attach his name to such nonsense. No, Baxter was a jokester, hardly Ivy League material. A few unqualified students always slipped through the door, especially if Daddy volunteered—with no preconditions, of course—to help finance the largest modernization update in American university history.

Baxter was almost the perfect buffoon; everyone would acknowledge him as the author of such rubbish. With his family wealth, the lad did not take school seriously. His work—up until then—had been unexceptional.

Indeed, Gladstone's fellow professors had found the perfect conman for their joke.

Although Gladstone considered Baxter the best setup man the faculty could find, he also noted that up until now—despite Baxter's underwhelming grades—the student's work had never been fraught with fiction. Baxter performed poorly because he was apathetic toward his studies and spent his free time in bars chasing girls.

Gladstone pondered. What fun is a joke if the perpetrators cannot witness the reaction?

With nothing found in his office, only one option was left: Baxter would be carrying some sort of surveillance equipment. Gladstone would observe the lad closely and take measures to thwart that ploy. Once Baxter made to adjust his equipment, the reality that it truly was a prank would be apparent.

Actually, Baxter's paper might be more than a prank, and their meeting might be in fact a test of Gladstone's fitness to assume the role of chairman of the department. Thus, he would be sure to angle the conversation so that it turned the tables on his colleagues, making them the butt of the joke.

Gladstone grinned. This meeting with Baxter is the perfect time for me to strut my stuff.

Like most history professors, Gladstone was well versed on a range of topics, but his area of specialty—one where he had authored eleven books and had been used as a consultant for a major Hollywood movie—was the Civil War. He also happened to know quite a bit about the famous American outlaw, Jesse James. Still, anyone with an educational pedigree above a fourth-grade reading level and an IQ over sixty would spot Baxter's revisionist history of Jesse James as a work of juvenile fiction. It was one thing to take a position on disputed historical matter, such as claiming that Lee Harvey Oswald had not acted alone in the assassination of President Kennedy, or theorizing something new, such as Gavin Menzies's proposal that the Chinese were the first visitors to the New World, but it was something quite different to reinvent indisputable history.

Baxter's work was pure poppycock. The title of the thesis alone portended the delusions within: Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus.

A knock came from Professor Gladstone's office door.


Gladstone eyed Baxter as he sauntered into the office. The boy carried a carefree confidence and a large duffel bag. If the paper was Ulysses Baxter's alone, then he should have been a trifle more apprehensive; the thesis and its evaluation would determine whether or not he graduated. Gladstone's suspicions grew, since in all the times he'd ever seen Baxter, he barely recalled him carrying his books, let alone an oversized bag.

Gladstone grinned. What's in the bag, Baxter? Maybe some digital recording equipment?

"Professor Gladstone, so good to see you."

So good to see you? This was quite unlike Baxter. The only time he looked pleased in a classroom (when present, of course) was when the class ended. His attention was always focused on the ladies, not the lessons. No, the boy was not smart enough to hold up the faculty's charade, and now they all would pay. Gladstone would start with a little deception and see how quickly the straw man crumbled.

Baxter nodded to the open chair across the desk from the professor. "May I?"

"Baxter, my boy ..." Gladstone spun around the desk like a race car around a turn in the track. "Let me take that duffel bag from you and put it over here."

Naturally, his sudden offense flustered the student, who stood with his mouth hanging open and eyes slanted. Baxter looked more than shocked; he was aghast.

Gladstone smiled. Gotcha. He judged the bag to weigh a few pounds and sensed some motion within, which suggested that more than one object lurked inside.

Gladstone took the bag to a small coat closet, set it down, and shut the door. Victorious, he returned to shake Baxter's hand. "Take a seat," Gladstone commanded, with a stern sense of authority. He wanted to keep Baxter rattled and off-script.

Seated once again, he took stock of Baxter. He understood the reasons his student captivated women. His hair was just long enough to be risky, yet short enough not to look degenerate. A perfect mess, one that took no time grooming, yet it worked. He wore faded blue jeans and an olive T-shirt that depicted a dog with one hind leg raised. Like his casual attire, Baxter himself was ill-suited for the occasion. Gladstone would undress the faculty's con-artist.

A puzzled expression crossed Baxter's face. Flustered by the professor's masterstroke, the hustler had been hustled. Gladstone swelled inside. Surely Baxter was aware of the professor's intellectual superiority and was further intimidated. Unable to maintain his composure under Gladstone's steely gaze, Baxter seemed afraid to speak.

With the mysterious bag sequestered in the closet, Gladstone believed he'd nullified the faculty's attempt to listen in. At first he had planned to play it up and put on a show, to impress them with his oratory prowess, yet he did not want to come across as pompous. Better to ditch the possibility of any recorded account of his dealings with his student.

Gladstone's eyes bore into Baxter's as he toyed with the button on his sports jacket. He imagined himself as Porfiry Petrovich in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, with Baxter playing the part of the criminal, Raskolnikov. It would only be a matter of time before the rascal confessed, and if the boy looked away from the steady glare, he'd be providing a telltale sign of deception. Yet the boy maintained a steady gaze, while his mouth curled at the corners as if amused. Well, the joke's on him, Gladstone thought, but with less certainty.

Gladstone decided to open the dialogue. He spread his hands and said, "Mr. Ulysses Baxter, where to begin?"

Baxter's eyes brightened. "Amazing, wasn't it?" The enthusiastic tone evidenced his reply was not a question. "Dare I say brilliant?"

Unbelievable, thought Gladstone. The gall. The balls. How does the lad put his trousers on in the morning? Maybe the faculty had found the right man for the job after all. Baxter was a bullshit artist of the modern variety. He could spray flowery shit around, but it was abstract illusionism. Now was the time to peel the paint from this forgery.

Referring to the faculty's game afoot, he said, "I know."

Baxter almost levitated from his chair in excitement. "I hoped you would agree. I knew the thesis was unorthodox, and yet I believe it will go down in history as a landmark paper." He nodded and pressed his lips like he was proud.

Gladstone gawked. Either the boy did not comprehend or he chose to continue the faculty's scam. He wondered what the boy was getting in exchange for playing the conman. At least he hoped the interview was a scam. It had to be. While Baxter was not overly bright, the boy was not insane, and that's what his paper was—utter insanity.

Doubt resonated. Rather than parry what he believed to be a ploy by the faculty, he was more concerned about getting to the bottom of things.

Gladstone's eyes no longer pried, and his voice hitched up an octave. "I know this is a joke," he said, though more as a question.

"It's not a joke, Professor Gladstone. And if I may comment, you're acting a little peculiar." He paused to glance back at the closet door. "Are you okay?"

Professor Gladstone ground his teeth in frustration. Perhaps this was not a faculty prank at all. If that were the case, then the matter was easily dealt with. "I want to know one thing right now. Did someone put you up to this?"

A sly smile crept across Baxter's face. "What are you saying?"

"You know what I'm saying," Gladstone said, though he no longer was certain of his read on the matter.

The younger man puffed air and scowled. "The only one who put me up to this was a source that wanted to let the world know about the Captain. Anything else is a figment of your imagination."

Gladstone shook inside. The nerve of the boy to brazenly suggest something was a figment of his imagination, even though that well may be the truth of it. Even more absurd was his mention of this captain. A fictional character if there ever was one. Baxter was either a shyster or mentally unbalanced. Whichever, his old man had wasted a lot of money, because his son was about to fail his history thesis and not graduate.

The professor considered himself kind when it came to evaluating his students. Sure, few were gifted enough to earn an A, but it had been a long time since he had flunked a student. Under normal circumstances, the ones who did poorly at least presented factually accurate work. This was different. Gladstone had neither qualms nor pity in leveling with Baxter.

So he cleared his throat. "Well, then." He picked a pen off his desk and scrawled a big F on the cover of the paper. "Here you go. Hope you thought the joke was worth it. You failed."

Baxter took the paper, gawked at the grade, and then glowered. He leafed through the paper, at first slowly and then in rapid succession, looked up, a trace of anger forming in the lad's countenance. "There are no comments. You usually mark my papers up. Did you even read this?"

The lad submitted a pile of rubbish, and now he has the audacity to question an esteemed professor? Today's generation had no respect. "I read enough to know that it was unworthy of a passing grade." Gladstone stopped, realizing Baxter obviously wrote the paper, seeking some perverse pleasure. There was no need to encourage him.

"This is unacceptable!"

"Excuse me?" Gladstone replied. He blinked in rapid succession as he pressed the frame of his glasses back. "Who are you to question me? Your name will be synonymous with lies and deceit."

Baxter grinned. "Your name, Glad-stone, is synonymous with happy-rock."

Gladstone bristled at the mockery. Unless this was a faculty prank, the boy's behavior was grounds for expulsion.

Baxter sat back, relaxed his posture, and said, "All I'm asking for is feedback on my work. This is my graduate thesis, and I deserve as much."

Gladstone sighed and tried to rub the migraine from between his eyes. "Perhaps you could have passed had you majored in creative writing, but this is history, where facts are facts. You submitted something you found amusing, yet it is beyond even being historical fiction. It's historical fantasy. Your unconventional footnotes detailed personal peccadilloes, not historical references. The paper is riddled with ridiculous clichés. In over thirty years of teaching, I have never read such a pile of shit! Excuse my French."

A sick smile formed on Baxter's thin lips. "Que? My apologies, Professor Gladstone."

Gladstone was pleased the charade was near an end and that his student finally expressed contrition. He rolled his hand for the lad to continue.

"Footnotes are annoying. No one wants to keep reading fine print at the bottom of every page. You historians, however, insist on trying to blind us with information that a skilled hand could incorporate into the body of the story. My infrequent footnotes illuminate."

"Your footnotes are further evidence this thesis is a spoof."

"As for the clichés, they originated from the primary-source document, so I was forced to incorporate them." Baxter rolled his eyes. "Although I found your classes dull and uninspiring, I'm aware that you are some superelite tenured professor. Thus, I half-hoped you would comprehend the magnitude of this masterpiece."

Gladstone glowered. The insult. The audacity. Before he could speak, Baxter forged on.

"I know I took some literary liberties, especially in the paper's prologue, because my source was a secondhand account. The rest of the paper, I assure you, is derived from primary-source documents. Every historian should be allowed some educated conjecture, especially when the story benefits from different points of view." He jutted his jaw. "I also presented my work in novel form, rather than some boring, stuffy history book that no one wants to read. You know all about those, right, Professor Gladstone?"

"Literary liberties?" he coughed out in dismay. He wanted to address the insulting insinuation of his own acclaimed work, but Baxter was quick to reply.

"Here and there, but it's all true, starting with the death of Major Johnson."

"I know all about Major Johnson."

Baxter actually laughed at him. "Do you, Professor Gladstone?"

The moron, thought Gladstone. The boy's innuendo was a reference to some ridiculous connection premised in his thesis. At best, he should have ignored the conjectured connection. "Yes, and while that part where Jesse James kills Major Johnson is certainly factual, much of the rest is balderdash. There was no Captain Coytus."

Baxter appeared crestfallen and bit his lip with a blank stare. Gladstone felt like he had just explained to a child that there was no Santa Claus.

Then the lad's eyes sparkled. "I'm sorry to say, Professor Gladstone, but you're dead wrong. The no-longer-secret legend of Captain Coytus is very true."


Excerpted from Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus by Alex J. Mueck. Copyright © 2013 Alex J. Mueck. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 8, 2014

    I am not much of a history buff, although I do like the Jesse Ja

    I am not much of a history buff, although I do like the Jesse James outlaw era which spurred my desire to read this book. I thought the premise to the story was good, and the characters seemed mostly true to what is historically written about them. However, I thought the book was about twice as long as it needed to be. I attributed my feeling to not enjoying historic details as much, as I can easily imagine someone saying the book isn’t long enough! The transition from Jesse James time to present time was executed well, and I found the story easy to follow. All in all, I thought the storyline was quite ingenious!

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  • Posted April 7, 2014

     This was a great book. I really enjoyed the college boy humor i

     This was a great book. I really enjoyed the college boy humor in it, but more than that, I loved the way it was delivered. This is fiction/historical comedy and Alex Mueck did great.
         Professor Gladstone is a Harvard Professor and working on grading his students Thesis papers. Since he has recently been promoted, when he comes across the Thesis written by Ulysses Hercules Baxter, he thinks it must be some type of initiation prank. Imagine the poor Professors anxiety when his student insists this is his own work and then goes on to lead Professor Gladstone through the whole paper trying to prove himself. Ulysses Baxters grade depends on this thesis, however he is determined to prove his case, much to the Professors anguish. The Professor even at times tries to bribe the student with a B if he will just stop and leave. Ulysses will have no part of that as this is A+ material in his mind.
         I really loved this book and loved how it felt like two stories in one. You are going to have to read it to see what happens with the Professor and Ulysses. You are going to laugh at the antics involved with Captain Coytus! What a funny book.
         I am giving this book 5 stars. It kept me interested and smiling when I was not outright laughing. I will be looking forward to more books by this author. Keep up the excellent work and thank you for the smiles, laughs, and outright insanity!

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  • Posted March 26, 2014

    So, ¿Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus...¿ Say

    So, “Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus...” Say that three times fast! *chuckle*

    Anyway, “Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus” is a two part story, which is why the reader starts in the present day (versus the mid-1800s) with the meeting of a rather irate Harvard history professor. Apparently, the most recent assignment from Professor Gladstone was an essay based upon, yup, you guessed it, history. Factual history that is; or at least a believable hypothesis surrounding said factual history.

    Needless to say, I’m certain you can imagine Professor Gladstone’s complete and utter outrage when one of his lackluster students handed in an essay titled: “Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus.” The paper is rubbish, and it’s obviously a prank. In fact, it is so over the top that Professor Gladstone actually wonders if the school's faculty is also involved. Maybe this is some sort of secret hazing by his fellow professors…

    It is at this point that the reader meets Ulysses Hercules Baxter, the apathetic buffoon aka student behind the essay and the cause of the professor’s irritation. A long conversation begins, during which Baxter assures Professor Gladstone that this essay is not a joke.  And apparently Baxter brought along the documentation to validate his claim.

    The conversation between student and professor continues and as it does, so does this novel. This is where the second part of the book begins, the story of: “Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus.” I’m not going to provide more of either tale, but the reader will move back and forth between these two time lines. (Although the main portion of the book will revolve around the story of Jesse James).

    Moving on to the writing... “Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus” was a well-written book. Author, Alex Mueck, does a great job of using the appropriate words/phrases from each time period to make his story more believable. His writing is clean and concise without becoming clinical or boring. Places, scenes and character interactions are obviously well-thought-out, and are explained with flourish and flair. In summary, Mueck is a gifted writer. Unfortunately, I, myself, was not a fan of this particular book. However, I’m certain that those who enjoy slapstick humor will find “Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus” to be a difficult book to set down.

    (Book received from author, free of charge, for review).

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  • Posted February 20, 2014

    How refreshing this book was! It was filled with humor, characte

    How refreshing this book was! It was filled with humor, characters I knew nothing about, history of a time that is so different from what we live in now and great warmth. Personally I have been struggling this year so sitting down to a book that took me to a completely different time that kept me entertained from beginning to end was more than welcoming. When you read the title you think it is only going to be focused on the western time in our history but having the story told from Baxter gives you a whole different perspective on the story line. The author did a great job at really developing the characters right before your eyes and the wit that jumps out from the pages is so good! Definitely something anyone who needs a good laugh and to learn a little piece of history that most of us know from just the movies, this is the book for you!

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  • Posted February 11, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This is a great mix of humor and history. I thought this book wa

    This is a great mix of humor and history. I thought this book was filled with so much originality, it was going to burst. I’m not really a big f
    an of Westerns, but I checked out this book anyway, and I’m glad I did! What an unexpected surprise! This book is a perfect read for
    anyone hoping to break out of the mold a bit, the main character himself is such a free spirit, and it just really works. You don’t often
    come across a comedy book, that’s steeped in a bit of history, and can really cause such an emotional connection in the reader.
    This book did that! I was laughing, then I was mad, then I was all sad! It’s a ride, but I completely suggest you take a chance on it.

    As for the book itself, it’s well written, it’s got a good flow, and I will say it’s logically plotted out. I couldn’t find any technical issues with
    this book, but I was busy being entertained, I didn’t even have time to notice! I think the author did a wonderful job bringing such a crazy
    bunch of characters to life in this book, starting with his main character. I loved how well the author really told his tale, a “tall tale” for
    sure, but it brought you in and I honestly started to believe parts of it, until we got to another hilarious moment, and I remembered what
    I’m reading, but you can definitely tell the quality of writer, because this book hits a home run! :)

    *I was given a copy in exchange for an honest review.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    Professor Gladstone, a Harvard history professor, has an agenda

    Professor Gladstone, a Harvard history professor, has an agenda of becoming the next appointed department chair. One of his students, Ulysses Hercules Baxter, an under-achieving senior, has an agenda of acing his novel-based thesis on Jesse James. From the little bit the professor glanced at Baxter's quasi-mythical-titled paper, on which Mueck's novel is named, Gladstone is certain that Baxter's final year's work is totally bogus. Thinking that the faculty put Baxter up to a prank and not wanting to fall prey to the joke, Gladstone plans to not issue him a passing grade. However, when Baxter comes prepared to show that his sources are sound, Gladstone feels pressed to up his grade. Baxter is out to prove that he has solved three mysteries: 1) the disappearance of satirist Ambrose Bierce; 2) the disappearance of gold from Mexico's French emperor Fernando Maximilian; and 3) the untold truth about Jesse Woodson James.

    Having researched several historical and conspiracy-minded books on the infamous Jesse James, Mueck has produced a uproarious novel whose plot, set in Missouri near the close of the Civil War, is a mix of satirical Mel Brooks humor and dark Quentin Tarantino comedy. Mueck's characters vary from serious to zany. Most notable is the hero of the story, nineteen-year-old Captain Coytus, whose name suggests that his leadership skills are at their finest among women, and who is on a mission to avenge his father's (Major Johnson's) death by seeking out those responsible, primarily Jesse James. Aside of the sexual innuendoes and rampant hormonal moments, Coytus is an educational wizard and a wordsmith to boot, with an ability to manipulate minds that, seemingly, shapes the course of American history.

    Mueck cleverly weaves Coytus's quick-witted puns with the horrific historical realities of the Civil War by keeping each chapter short yet constantly moving as Coytus searches for James and finds true love on the way. Jesse James & The Secret Legend of Captain Coytus is earmarked to be a classic, one that readers will be talking about for years. Anita Lock, Pacific Review

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  • Posted December 19, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus is the lates

    Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus is the latest offering by Alex J. Mueck, an author who has shifted from more serious crime work to achieving more interesting edges in previous book Myth Man and to a much further extent in this new and bizarre title, which explores the story of Jesse James and the “truth” of his story, as ascribed by a delinquent student’s graduate thesis determined to expose this “secret legend” for fame, fortune and girls.

    The story is set up in an interesting way that takes a little getting into, jumping from the present day and the suffering of teacher Professor Gladstone as he discusses the paper with his student, one Ulysses Hercules Baxter as he’s forced to properly examine the dreadful abomination that he can barely believe is a real submission by the overly-aspiring and confident young student.

    The book breaks into separate sections to cover his paper as it is read, one which is written in literary prose rather than in a research format (“literary liberties” as Baxter describes them) with irregular footnoting not leading to actual sources but instead to humorous asides and pseudo-facts (“1. For instance, to this day, Centralia still does not have a Starbucks”). The slightly jilted and very off-beat feel to these sections gives an authentic feel to the awkwardly-written college paper dynamic and contrasts well with the present day sections which are – subtly – much better in their descriptions, and characterize the two battling minds incredibly well in very small scenes. The story itself is absurdist, wild and frequently hilarious with a spattering of childish jokes one can imagine an arrogant college graduate giggling to himself over, with the titular Captain Coytus being only one of many just-about-ridiculous jokes of the read.

    The book edges the juvenile with awareness and irony, using the framing device to keep you from doubting the author’s sanity and getting the same feel as if you were reading a bad fan-fiction more than a silly book written tongue in cheek.

    Despite this the author is well read on the topic, managing to capture the detail and historical accuracy very well despite quickly throwing this knowledge to the hounds for something a lot funnier. This read is a real show of why you should always know the rules before you bend them, and the author even recommends several resources that he found useful in his acknowledgements if the real Jesse James comes to capture your interest during the read.

    The “secret legend” itself is very interesting, following a vague biography of Jesse James and following into several other characters, skipping over periods of disinterest to the narrative chosen by Baxter and describing real and fictional events with a great love of detail while keeping a brisk pace through them, keeping a schoolboy attitude of interest on the details of sex, violence and penis jokes without getting tired or bogged down by them. It’s hard to always know where events are leading or what the conclusion to the tale may be due to the believable but silly fictional turns the story takes on a true story, and the fate of the paper as truth begins to enter the debate and opens the Professor’s migraine-infested mind to the idea that he may be wrong.

    The book isn’t an incredibly long read and anyone interested by the title let alone the first few chapters is likely to get along with this book very well, even if the details might drop out of your mind about as quickly as they enter. It’s an entertaining book and fun to flick through on the bus for instance, and deserves being picked up by more than a few avid fantasy readers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2013

    The book was not a normal pick for me but the cover attracted th

    The book was not a normal pick for me but the cover attracted the read. I never thought it would be so funny and creatively done about a period of time and a character that had been shared many times during my childhood by my Southwestern dad. Enjoyed it!

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  • Posted December 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite The plot of Jesse

    Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

    The plot of Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus by Alex Mueck begins in the present day. Ulysses Hercules Baxter wrote a thesis paper set in the era of Jesse James. When the Harvard professor looked at the paper, he suspected one or more faculty members were attempting to play a trick on him. But when Professor Gladstone met with Baxter, it was obvious that the young man believed every word he’d written. Baxter’s thesis was more like a novel than a normal thesis paper, but even more troubling for the professor is the lack of proof that Coytus ever existed. Baxter’s grade will determine whether or not he fails the class. There is only one way to prove to Professor Gladstone the authenticity of the thesis and that is to take him back in time through the reading of the paper. 

    Captain Coytus is out for revenge. The year is 1864. Coytus knows the name of the man responsible for the death of his father, none other than Jesse Woodson James. Coytus’ journey was quite an adventure for he found his soul-mate and was asked to take the position of sheriff in Booneville. Along with his woman and the deputy, Captain Coytus discovers there comes a time when we all must wise up.

    Alex Mueck’s book is an entertaining read. The author cleverly takes a few historical characters, adds a mix of fictional characters, and stirs in a heaping dose of humor. There are numerous twists and turns that are sure to keep readers eagerly turning pages. The deputy is hilarious. I was reminded of Barney Fife. One of the ways you can distinguish between a good author and a great author is his or her ability to stir a reader’s emotions. Alex Mueck manages to stir all of the emotions from anger to laughter and all the rest in between. The author’s talent and sense of humor shines through in this book. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

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  • Posted November 30, 2013

    If I was asked to describe the book in only two words, I probabl

    If I was asked to describe the book in only two words, I probably would choose amusing and entertaining. I found the book exceptionally well written and pleasant to read. The very extraordinary main character is nonconformer and free spirited. He made me smile, he made me laugh, he made me sad, and at other times, he made me angry. If any book can produce such a variety of emotions in me, I consider it worth of my reading time. I would definitely recommend The Captain”, but… it is not a book for everybody. You do need to have a sense of humor.

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  • Posted November 27, 2013

    Jesse James & The Secret Legend of Captain Coytus, is an ima

    Jesse James & The Secret Legend of Captain Coytus, is an imaginative tale by gifted wordsmith Alex Mueck with a cast of characters
    you won’t forget. 

    Herein lies a Jesse James worthy of all the ink spilled in his name. This new scholarship comes by way of a final paper submitted by
    an “underwhelming” but privileged Harvard student with a grade that begins at “F” for obvious fiction but does not end there. Captain
    Coytus is a legend, oversized in all the right places. Without sacrificing his enormous sense of self, this flawed but likable hero
    becomes a savior to the oppressed and a menace to the mighty. A character in contradiction the self-appointed captain is an irreverent
    liberator, a macho feminist and a restrained killer. During a stint at the Lexington Caucasian, a confederate owned newspaper, Coytus
    triples the circulation by introducing and publishing the results of a silly but exquisitely sly and subversive poll demonstrating that the
    pen is not only mightier than the sword but more ticklish than a feather. 

    This book is broken down nicely into bite-sized chapters, perfect for a busy life with lots of interruptions.
     If you enjoyed the clever, imaginative (absurd) and downright lol works of Christopher Moore, Will Clarke and/or A. Lee Martinez,
     read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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