The Yard Dog by Sheldon Russell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Yard Dog by Sheldon Russell
Hook Runyon #1
I loved this book every bit as much as I loved Robert Jackson Bennett’s “Mr. Shivers,” which is not to take away from either novel-just the opposite. “Mr. Shivers” takes place, in large part, in the hobo jungle of the railroads during the Great Depression in the U.S., in the 1930’s. “The Yard Dog” is the first of the Hook Runyon series, and begins during World War II, in Oklahoma. Hook is a one-armed “yard dog,” or “railroad bull,” a detective employed by the Santa Fe Railroad, in Oklahoma. He keeps an eye out for bums, pickpockets, and thievery of railroad property. His home is a caboose, which is neatly available for moving from one location to another via switch engine, and in his solitude and loneliness Hook is not only an avid reader but a collector of rare editions.
At the commencement of the novel Hook is dismayed and distraught to discover that Spark Durgan, a rather low-intellect man who lived in a shack under a railroad trestle and made his minor living picking up coal fallen from freight cars, has died-ostensibly by falling asleep under a line of refrigerated boxcars and subsequently being run over. But Hook won’t believe it, and he perseveres in discovering the true cause, despite various attempts-including both his railroad employers and colleagues, and the U.S. Army Major who is Commanding Officer of the nearby P.O.W. camp-to halt the investigation and label it an accident while under intoxication.
Literate, clever, with deeply delineated characters and a delightfully twisty plot, “The Yard Dog” captured my attention immediately and by the end I had determined to continue with the series, enjoying Hook’s character and his loyalty and determination (not to mention his fascinating reading tastes).
My review is based on a Library edition.
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