Saturday, September 5, 2009

"The Yard Dog"

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 applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel The Yard Dog, the first volume in the Hook Runyon Mystery series, and reported the following:
From page 69:

Finding a telephone in the waiting room, she dialed the number Major Dunfield had given her.

“Camp Alva,” a woman said, “may I help you?”

“Yes, perhaps. My name is Dr. Reina Kaplan, Special Projects Division. I’m to report to Major Foreman at Camp Alva in the morning. Might you suggest a place for me to stay the night?”

Thus begins Dr. Reina Kaplan’s first contact with the prisoner of war camp located in the middle of the Oklahoma prairie during WWII. Dr. Kaplan, a Jewish big-city transplant, has been charged with educating the five-thousand Nazi prisoners in the basics of democracy before their eventual return to Germany.

A bizarre cast of characters await her in this bare and stoic place. There’s Hook Runyon, the one-arm railroad bull who collects books and lives in a caboose, and Runt Wallace, his sidekick and purveyor of busthead shine. There’s Spark Dugan, the itinerant coal picker who lives in a shack under the trestle, and Bud Hanson, the local digger and part-time philosopher. And of course there’s Hugh Favor, the immensely rich and powerful oil man who is driven by his passion for art.

Soon enough Dr. Kaplan is drawn into a conspiracy that reaches into the highest echelons of the camp and beyond.
Read an excerpt from The Yard Dog, and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue