cover image Hop Alley

Hop Alley

Scott Phillips. Counterpoint, $25 (192p) ISBN 978-1-61902-307-9

Set in 1878, Phillips’s excellent sequel to Cottonwood (2004) continues the adventures of Bill Ogden, frontier photographer and libertine. Ogden has set up shop in Denver under the name Bill Sadlaw. His business isn’t exactly flourishing, but Ogden is getting by with portraiture work and by selling novelty photo sets. He enjoys the regular attentions of Priscilla, a lovely yet volatile laudanum addict. Things begin to get complicated when a local newsman—the abusive father of Ogden’s young assistant, Lemuel—ends up dead. The case dominates the headlines in Denver, and when two Chinese men from nearby Hop Alley are mistakenly implicated, already-simmering racial tension erupts into a full-scale anti-Chinese riot. Phillips’s skillful use of real historical events will resonate with fans of George Macdonald Fraser’s Flashman series. Readers unfamiliar with Phillips’s other work can jump in without difficulty, but devotees will especially appreciate this slim, entertaining interlude in the larger Ogden story. Agent: David Hale Smith, Inkwell Management. (May)