The Hanging of Samuel Ash

Sheldon Russell, Author
Sheldon Russell. Minotaur, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-00101-6
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-250-03199-0
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-250-06559-9
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A compelling lead compensates only in part for the relatively weak plot of Russell’s fourth mystery featuring one-armed Santa Fe railroad bull Hook Runyon (after 2012’s Dead Man’s Tunnel), set during WWII against a backdrop of labor unrest. When Runyon checks out a nonworking signal on a remote stretch of track, he discovers a man’s corpse hanging from the signal’s cantilever. The only clue to the dead man’s identity is a Bronze Star inscribed with the name Samuel Ash. Not wanting the war hero to be buried in a pauper’s grave, Runyon takes custody of the body and embarks on a quest to find Ash’s relatives and the truth about his death. A dose of humor lightens the gloom—pickpockets steal Runyon’s wallet and badge while he’s hunting pickpockets—but the mystery itself never picks up much steam. Fans will hope for a return to form next time. Agents: Michael and Susan Morgan Farris, Farris Literary Agency. (Aug.)
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