This a rough book, about a rough era, the roaring '20s, in a rough place, the newly created state of Arizona.
Jake Smith is an orphan, raised by his Grandfather, also named Jake, the town constable of Superior, Arizona. The tale takes him from his Sophomore year of high school, through a summer ranch job and back into his junior year.
During that six months Jake meets gamblers, and cattle rustlers, poets and cowhands, ranch cooks and mining magnates.
"I spun around and found myself looking down the double barrels of a sawed off shotgun held in the meaty hands of my hard case. Let me tell you. When you're looking straight at them, the barrels of a .12 gauge look about as big as a couple of field artillery pieces."
He learns how to repair fences, and fish with dynamite; gets himself a mangy old dog, and a darn smart girl; finds and loses a fortune; and earns a practically brand new watch.
He also learns how to cook. Southwestern food figures a lot in the book, and some of the recipes are included. Try them, it's good eats.
"The food was a darn site better than I usually got and I wasn't going to waste the opportunity. Dessert was dried apple pie with coffee. I had seconds on that too, and would have gone for thirds if I could have figured out how to fit it in. Manny did grab himself a third piece of pie but I don't think his heart was in it. He just sort of picked at it for a while, though he did carry in his hand what was left."
Mostly, the stories are true, as told to me by the old folks, though some are twisted around a bit, and a few are downright stretchers. But then, that's what writing a book is about, isn't it; getting to tell a few whoppers?
I hope you enjoy the reading as much as I did the writing.