Railroad bull Hook Runyon and his dog, Mixer, are chasing persistent pickpockets on the Santa Fe line, when Hook is called to investigate a malfunctioning wigwag signal in the middle of nowhere. A young man has been strung up there, hung from the signal, and left strangled to death. Hook finds no identification on the body, other than a bronze hero's medal around the corpse's neck, with the name Samuel Ash engraved on it. Refusing to bury what seems to be a World War II hero in a pauper's grave, Hook vows to find the dead boy's family, as well as his killer.
With the casket in tow, and slowed down by an over-educated sidekick, Junior Monroe, and a stream of new tasks from the head of division, Hook finally finds his way to Carmen, Oklahoma. But no one there has ever heard of anyone named Samuel Ash. There are secrets in Carmen, most of them associated with the local orphanage and its disliked director, and Hook is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery of the hanging of Samuel Ash.
Vivid characterizations, searing descriptions, and a twisty plot make Sheldon Russell's The Hanging of Samuel Ash a gripping read.
Praise for The Hanging of Samuel Ash:"Russell...weaves solid history into entertainig crime fiction. He subtly conveys the malaise felt by railroad employees...as well as the sights, sounds, and even the smells of a fascinating world now largely gone."—Booklist (starred review)"Gritty, Hemingway-reading outsider Hook makes a most engaging hero. His fourth big case has a Dickensian feel, both in its colorful supporting cast and its numerous and welcome digressions."—Kirkus Reviews"Russell continues his excellent work with the fourth Hook Runyon title."—Library Journal"Colorful locals spice up the clever dialogue and give the narrative plenty of zest."—Mystery Scene
"A rollicking tale of life on the railroad, with a truly marvelous lead character. Hook is a master at getting by on fast talk and his uncanny ability to avoid doing what his much-despised supervisor wants him to do. Railroad buffs will love this story, and even for those of us who weren't already fans, the repartee and the truly charming figure of the protagonist will keep everyone enthralled. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED."—I Love a Mystery
Praise for Dead Man's Tunnel:
"...richly atmospheric...A humane, credible lead bolsters a carefully constructed plot." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Plenty of twists and turns added to the wealth of historical detail about railroads and the Southwest should provide an enjoyable read for fans of World War II mysteries and the earlier books in the series." -- Library Journal
"Sheldon Russell delivers another outstanding addition to this compelling historical mystery series. His tightly woven narrative gives you an excellent feel for the location and time, as well as the complex characters involved. Can't wait for Hook's next thrilling adventure." -- Fresh Fiction
"It's hard to come up with a wholly unique character in the burgeoning mystery game, but Oklahoma's Sheldon Russell has managed it with Hook Runyon, an aptly named, one-armed, 1940s railroad bull... [T]he intimate colour Russell imparts to the era...makes this third Runyon caper a compulsive page-turner. The battered bull's insult-laden jabberings with a cantankerous junkyard owner, his unsympathetic boss and hard-bitten rail crews are just laugh-out-loud funny.
Toss in a comely-but-cagey army lieutenant, an AWOL soldier on a holdup spree and various (and hilarious) transportation challenges, and Runyon's travails become a reader's delight."--Winnipeg Free Press
Praise for The Insane Train:
“There’s a train you want to catch in Sheldon Russell’s terrific historical crime novel THE INSANE TRAIN. … [Protagonist] Hook [Runyon] sets the rugged-but-sensitive tone of this outstanding series, which delivers thrilling action, great scenery and a full cast of complex characters searching for peace in a troubled postwar environment.”--New York Times
Praise for The Yard Dog:
"...a marvelous read."--Booklist
"The plot is brilliant and riveting; the characterization is rich and vivid; the setting is distinctive and intriguing." -- Fresh Fiction
"Russell has created one of the most noteworthy characters in modern detective fiction. The Yard Dog is not only one of the best debuts of the year, it is among the best mysteries of the year."--Mysterious Reviews