The Yard Dog: A Mystery

The Yard Dog: A Mystery

by Sheldon Russell

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429929165
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/01/2009
Series: A Hook Runyon Mystery , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
File size: 331 KB

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.

DR. SHELDON RUSSELL, Professor Emeritus, University of Louisville, and University of Central Oklahoma, is the author The Yard Dog, The Insane Train, and four previously published historical novels. He lives in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Read an Excerpt

Men gathered around the reefer, their breaths rising in the morning chill. The switch engine puffed and sighed, and steam shot from her sides. Ten or so German POWs watched from atop the ice deck. Ross Ague pushed back his hat and wallowed a cigar stump into the corner of his mouth as Hook approached.

“It’s a goddamn mess, Runyon,” he said, “and there’s cars waiting to ice. That produce goes to mush, someone’s ass is going on the line, and it ain’t going to be mine.”

Leaning down, Hook looked under the car, his stomach lurching. An arm was severed and tossed against the rail, its fingers curled. Caught by the undercarriage, the torso had dragged backward down line, the skin and muscle scoured away by bedrock. There was no mistaking the frayed cuffs or the wear of Spark Dugan’s heels.

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The Yard Dog: A Mystery 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Oklahoma as WWII draws to a close, Hook Runyan touches his armless sleeve and thinks back to his ex wife. She walked away without a mark from a car accident that cost him his limb in which he was a passenger and she the driver; she walked away from him too. Currently he lives alone in a junker caboose near where he works at the Waynoka Train depot just south of POW Camp Alva. When his only friend moonshiner Spark Dugan is found dead in the Waynoka rail yards, no one cares except Hook who knows it his job as the local yard dog to investigate, but this is personal. He begins to uncover unsavory things about his dead buddy including his belonging to a smuggling ring stealing army supplies and selling them on the black market and with ties to the camp. Camp Commander major Foreman refuses to cooperate while newcomer Dr. Reina Kaplan implements an internationally outlawed brainwashing program. Neither of them can deter Hook from his inquiry This is a super mid 1940s mystery that uses the investigation to provide readers with a deep look at the POW camps on American soil and at rationing American capitalist style. The story line is fast-paced as the YARD DOG Hook does his detective job by conducting an inquiry into the death of his buddy. Although the whodunit is well written and very entertaining, the historical view owns the novel as Sheldon Russell provides the audience with an interesting glimpse at WWII in the Oklahoma home front. Harriet Klausner
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While noirish mysteries aren't my usual cup of tea, I was tempted by this one because it involved a German prisoner of war camp in small town Oklahoma. Both of my parents grew up in small towns in the Midwest, and both told stories about the prisoner of war camps in their neighborhoods.I didn't like this book. At first I thought I was just the wrong type of reader to appreciate it. However, I gradually became aware of structural problems that would probably bother even readers who regularly read in this genre.The story started out all right, but it became more and more unbelievable as it went along. The story doesn't seem to follow a chronological pattern. Time is important at some points in the story, yet references to its passage are missing. Important details that would have made sense of some dialogue were absent, while some irrelevant details were included and even repeated.The main character, Hook, lost one arm in an accident and has a hook for a prosthesis. His disability disqualified him for military service, so he found work in rural Oklahoma as a special investigator for the railroad. We're told at the beginning of the book that ¿he was neither trained for nor inclined to law enforcement¿, yet at one point in the book he instructs the military officer in charge of the prison camp in the tactics for an operation in response to an emergency.Another character, Runt, has been physically deformed since birth, and is called Runt because of his very short stature. Both Hook and Runt are aggressively pursued by beautiful women without any awkward interactions regarding either man's disability. Runt's short stature is frequently referred to, yet at the end of a date, he walked his date to her door and she ¿lifted on her toes and kissed him¿.Not recommended.
WisteriaLeigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
THE YARD DOG, Sheldon Russell ,Minotaur Books,September 2009, $24.99/C$31.99, 292pp,978-0-312-56670-8.Hook Runyon is a railroad agent, a yard dog. His name is a nickname he inherited after an unfortunate accident left him without one arm, a prosthesis instead. His job is to protect the railroad from hobos, pickpockets and other criminals. He works at the yard that is situated near Camp Alva, a POW camp in Oklahoma. He lives in a caboose, bulging with his collection of rare books, a passion which is second only to his love of shine. One day Spark Dugan, is found dead under one of the railroad cars. He is a coal picker who keeps Hook¿s bin full, and this day when Hook wakes up his box is empty. When called to investigate, he is in a quandary as he immediately notices that nothing appears right. His boss wants a quick rap up, seeing the death as an accident caused when Spark Dugan carelessly fell asleep while drunk. But when it comes time to file the paperwork for the railroad, Hook labels the cause of death, homicide. Along with his buddy and moonshine supplier Runt, he will attempt to find out what happened to Spark . He knows one thing is for sure, Spark Dugan would have never picked a railroad car to sleep under, and another puzzlement, his face in death showed no fear. The setting inside and amid the countryside of a POW camp surrounding the railroad offers unique fresh material supported by accurate historical elements. Unforgettable characters captivate your emotions with Hook Runyan as a possible future series protagonist. World War II is brought chillingly close to home in this action packed mystery that is a white-knuckle achievement by Russell. Wisteria Leigh
brushmanDF More than 1 year ago
Hook Runyon is an unusual and very compelling character. Interesting storyline makes me want to read more of him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago