Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Shut Mouth Society, a Novel by James D. Best

The Shut Mouth Society is a mystery story in which Greg Evarts, a Santa Barbara police detective gets involved in looking for certain documents revolving around Abe Lincoln's pre-inaugural speech which is laid out in the Prologue. Evarts has a friend, Abraham Douglass, a descendant of Frederick Doublass, who asks Evarts to have a historical document looked at to determine its authenticity and along with the document is a page of numerical codes that needs to be decoded. Evarts contacts one Patricia Baldwin, History Professor and Lincoln expert, and almost falls too much for her, or did he?.

The next thing you know is that Douglass has been murdered by a person or persons unknown trying to get their hands on the document for some reason. A false charge that Evarts is the Rock Burglar  has the local police looking to arrest him, so he and Baldwin leave town to avoid arrest and the people looking for the document. They drive across country to Boston, hoping they have lost the man/men looking for the document. We learn that both Evarts' and Baldwin's ancestors were involved somehow in this unknown Shut Mouth Society and it has filtered down to them with the document somehow concealing the connection. This mystery takes them from Boston to New York to Washington, D.C., and to North Carolina before they get to the bottom of it.

There is plenty of action and suspense that follows the two along on there course of discovery. So much so, that Evarts must contact some of his old Army buddies to help protect them and the papers that people want really bad, bad enough to kill anyone who gets in their way.

This book kept me hooked and I hated to turn away from it unfinished, which I had to do only two times. It was 322 pages long and it's been a while since I read one that long and was so engrossed in it. Mister Best is a fine writer and I am looking forward to dipping into his westerns and see how they read.  Mystery, action, suspense, and more all there in an exciting tale of intrigue. 

Windows Ten

Upgraded from 8.1 or 2 and everything seems to be going swell. I like the Edge browser for its speed. Haven't opened Cortana yet. The new Edge start page is okey-dokey, bit I still have all my icons from 8.1. Will keep 'em for now. I like the News that shows up on opening Edge, lots of it. Haven't run into any difficulties, yet. Will keep my fingers crossed. Didn't lose any files, etc., that I know of. I guess I'm stuck with the free version. The price was right, but might have to pay to upgrade Office. I have 2010 and it's okay.

Maybe my Favorites will work now. Never did with the previous, but I don't have many.

Anyone else happy with Win Ten?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

An Elmer Kelton Novel, After the Bugles

So far, I haven't ran across a book I didn't like and this one, After the Bugles, by Elmer Kelton was no exception. Maybe I just like the western genre no matter how bad the plot or the writing, and to me Bugles  stood up well with the competition. There was certainly no bad writing or bad plot in it.
Joshua Buckalew and Ramon Hernandez are returning home after the battle of San Jacinto where Santa Ana was defeated. They must remain vigilant for Mexican raiders, outlaws posing as friends, and Comanche Indians. Josh's wife was a sister of Ramon and she had been killed in a raid by the Comanches and several homes were burned and people routed by Mexican raiders while they were off fighting the war. The two run into friends and enemies, and no matter how well Ramon fought in the war, there were some whites who couldn't and wouldn't get along with any Mexican.

Finally reaching home and finding their homes burned, except Ramon's, Josh and other whites they met along the trail are desperate to get their crops in before summer is too far gone. They all join up to help each other and even build a cabin for Josh, but the Mexicans are still hated by some of the party and attempt to kill Romon after they had stayed at his ranchero to recoup and make plans for the future. Unlucky for them, the Comanches attack and make short work of the two that shot at Ramon. One of them had shot the other sister of Ramon, who was supposedly in love with Josh. She had caused a fight between Josh and Ocie Quitman and Josh barely won the knock down dragout, but will she marry Josh? In the battle with the Comanches the novel reaches the end of the road and everything is resolved in one way or another.

I enjoyed this one, too, but will keep reading and looking for one I can't appreciate as much. But, why? Hell, I don't know. I just like to keep the Western markets in business - an impossible task.

The book pictured is a First Edition by Ballantine Books, price 50 cents, printed in 1967. It looks like it had been sitting in the sun for a while because it was beginning to fall apart. The pages are brownish, fragile, and torn in a few places. I picked it up at an antique shop, not a book store, and luckily all the pages were still in it. It had doubled in price to $1.29 used. The cover came off while reading, so I repaired it with masking tape. Available from Amazon for $6.99 or other choices from $0.01.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Ron Scheer's Glossary of Western Terms

I'm finding it fairly difficult to write a review on a book that has no plot, setting, or action,
just a listing of terms and words, but here goes.

The terms were compiled in alphabetical order by Ron Scheer in his book How the West Was Written, Volume Three. They are terms, words, slang, colloquialisms, that were used by the early western writers in their manuscripts to reflect the language or vernacular of the cowboys, miners, farmers, etc., that populate the works. Some are very colorful and others not, but they got the point across that the character was trying to make. But, why does a westerner talk this way instead of using everyday "normal" language. In some cases, he may have been brought up this way and inherited the terms from his parents or other family members, like a hand-me-down. In other cases, the person may have just came from the "civilized" world back east and picks up the terms for his own usage and to blend in to make others think he is a true westerner. In any event, the glossary covers them from "A to Izzard" to "zanjero". A couple of examles:
        "blam-jam" = a mild expletive for "damned: "We can't get that blam-jam handcar up to Palisade and back without somethin' more than four-man power." A. B. Ward, The Sage Brush Parson.
         "megrims" = depression, unhappiness.  "Overtaken by the megrims, the philosopher may seek relief in soliloquoy." O. Henry, Heart of the West.

The research on this was prodigious and required much reading and time by Mr. Scheer for which many western writers are thankful that finally someone put all these terms into a handy-dandy glossary.

I consider Ron a friend even though I didn't know him personally but through blogging. I enjoyed reading his blog posts because he had his own eloquent language that made them interesting. His Volume Three, Glossary, will live on even though Ron's life ended too soon from the "devil" cancer. We will miss him, but his works will be of benefit to many authors for the years to come.

This book and the first two volumes of How the West was Written are available from Amazon and Beat to a Pulp Press of David Cranmer, Publisher.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Hell Bent Kid, a Novel by Charles O. Locke

This story takes place in North Texas and New Mexico. It seems this hell bent kid is boxed in. He is called "Tot", but his real name is Tate, Tate Lohman, and he has been working for a while on the Restow ranch and thinking about leaving for Socorro, New Mexico, to be with his father. His father and he were the only family members left, except for his brother Harley and who knew where he was and what he was doing. "Tot" was hired by Henry Restow because "Tot" killed Shorty Boyd and was on probation. The murder was self defense, but the Boyd family thought otherwise.

Restow warned the young kid that if he left the ranch, the Boyds would chase him down and kill him, but he left for Socorro anyway figuring to outsmart the Boyds or miss them altogether. He didn't, he ran smack dab into 'em and ended up afoot, but still alive. And his journey to Socorro gets interesting and I didn't know if he was going to make it or not. After a horrible trip, he finally makes it and finds his brother Harley,but the meeting doesn't last long after he finds his father no longer among the living.

"Tot" turns back to Texas but stays at the ranch of Amos Bradley in Santa Clara, New Mexico, and falls for a daughter, Juanita. The story ends as he is under surveillance by the Boyds again. I won't reveal the ending, but I will say this was a terrific tale by the author. Mister Locke peppered the story with local idioms and dialogue which took a little getting used to, but by the end it was just part of the story, became less noticeable, and adds to it. I give this story a five-star rating. The author's bio says the novel "was one of the top twenty-five western novels of all time [states] the Western Writers of America . . . [and made into a movie, From Hell to Texas.]"

(I reviewed the book at the request of Open Road Media and will share it on Facebook, Twitter, and maybe other places where it shows up.)

NOTE: The header picture is the old Prescott (AZ) Courthouse seen through the trees from Gurley Street.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ten Shoes Up, a Novel by Gary L. Stuart

This story takes place in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the high country. “Angus” is a ridge rider, that is, he likes the mountains and is perfectly at home living at 12,000 feet in a self-built log cabin and only visits a town out of necessity. But A Captain Standard H. Plumb, railroad detective, thinks he has been robbing trains and is out to get him dead or alive. Plumb gets together a posse and lights out on the trail of Angus. The story has several points of view as each chapter is devoted to one of the characters and his situation as he tells it. The story moves along as each one picks up where the previous leaves off or simultaneously explains what went on or what his plans are.

Plumb and his posse nearly catch Angus as  posse member Branson fires his Hawken that barely misses Angus and puts a long gash in his horse’s thigh. Angus escapes by riding through the Ute Cut, a narrow opening in the cliffs on top of Ten Shoes Up, the name of the mountain.

The story continues with a few twists and turns and Angus meets Addie Morton in Montclair, Colorado, and falls for her. Her brother, Robert owns the bank there and Angus has business with him which he takes care of and heads back into the mountains on a new horse.

Well, it turns out that this Angus gent is not who he was made out to be and one of the former posse members, Bo String, who was nearly shot by a member of the new posse, holes up with Angus in his cabin on the mountain. The new posse finds the hidden cabin and Angus captures Under Sheriff Joe Pete. Angus gets the drop on the two remaining posse members, Plumb and Branson, and they both end up dead.

That part is over and Angus is on the hunt for a Tom Emmet and gang, more train robbers, who are rumored to be in the Cimarron, New Mexico, area. After some more tracking, shooting, and killing, Angus settles that round and the story is over.

This story of Angus Esparrazza was fun, interesting, exciting, and comes to an end with a surprise in store for the reader. The one thing I thought was a little overdone was the internal descriptive additions that explained too much unnecessary information, but I enjoyed the tale in spite of that. The use of the various POV’s didn’t interfere with the narrative, but moved it right along. An action-packed and thrilling tale of the old west.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Summer Events in AZ

You would think that there wouldn't be much going on in the desert heat in summer, but there are a few events taking place:

Today is the last day of the Annual Pleasant Valley Days in Young. Features a parade and historic site tours of the 1887 Pleasant Valley War, and other exciting things.

Jul 24-25: National Day of the Cowboy Celebration and Cowboy Artists of America in Sedona. WOW! This will be fun with gunfights, roping, and such, to celebrate the Cowboys. A whole lot of storytelling and I wouldn't be surprised there will be some tall tales among them and poetry, too. And some tall cowboys on horses.

Jul 25: First Annual Book Festival in Payson at Gila Community College. 60 authors available to sign and sell their books plus classes, etc., for writers and readers. I'm betting that this will be even bigger next year and the next.

Jul 25 - Grape Train Escape, Clarkdale. Wine tasting on the Verde Canyon Railroad, a great ride through the canyon and return to Clarkdale. You start out sober and return somewhat inebriated. YAHOOO!

Jul 25: Aquamoto Watercraft Race Series, Lake Havasu. Obstacle courses, bikini contests (Woot, woot!), flyboard contests, etc., etc., etc. 

Jul 25 - Sep 27: West of Center - A Community-Curated Event in Wickenburg. Media works by the Wickenburg Art Club, demonstrations, lectures, etc. at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum.

Aug 1-2: Antique Auto Show, Prescott. All makes and models of the old automobile. Fun, fun, fun.

Aug 6-8: Arizona Cowboy Poet Gathering, Prescott at Yavapai College. Perpetuating the culture, traditions, history of cowboy poetry. EEE-YAI!

And that be a few of the exciting events this summer in Arizona. Thanks to AAA's Magazine Highroads.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Short Introduction

We were in Sedona, Arizona, last week on a mini-vacation and when we returned Saturday evening around 4:00 PM, there was some difficulty with the garage door - again. It stuck about a third of the way open. Being fairly late in the day and on a weekend, it took a while to find someone to make a service call. The man showed up around 6:30-7:00 and proceeded to replace parts and give the door an overhaul, which took an hour or an hour-and-half. I finally pulled the car in around 8:30 after the serviceman wrang me dry of funds.

Anyway, while we were in Sedona, we took advantage of a jeep tour through the red rocks and pines. Our tour guide and jeep driver was "Rocky" Sullivan, pictured below:

"Rocky" is a genuine cowboy who had done plenty of ranch work and cattle herding and tending and in addition, is a cowboy poet. On our trip back into town he recited a couple of his poems and we all thought they were great. He said he will be attending a cowboy poet get-together in Abilene, Kansas, in a short while and afterward will be moving on to another one, where he will have audiences to hear his version of the genre. He said he hadn't published anything yet, but he is thinking about doing that before long. I told him he should get right on to it and also start writing short stories of which he has plenty to tell.

"Rocky" was funny, intelligent, and had a lot to say. He took us to an old ranch over a very rough road and told us its history and the ghost that supposedly shows himself occasionally and gives bad information to lost tourists. The six of us thought he was a real character and enjoyed the trip immensely.  Here is another pic of him with my great-grandsons and son-in-law:

So, that's "Rocky" Sullivan, and if you ever get the chance to see him at a poetry gathering, I'm sure you will enjoy his company as much as we did. He told us he was going to move to New Mexico in the near future and I'm sure you will hear much more of him. I wish him good luck!   

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Fifth of July

I've experienced some great Independence Days and regretted them on the fifth of July. I usually woke up with a terrible headache and half-sick with a wonderful hangover. AAAGH! Those days included mostly beer among the champagne, cognac, wine, sangria, Kentucky whiskey, Scotch whiskey, gin, rum, vodka, saki, and other drinks that happened to appear ready for consumption. Some included women of low reputation, high reputation, or no reputation and others did not. But the result was usually the same - a grandiose hangover that left me wondering if I would make it through the day.

Well, those  days are gone forever and have been for the last twenty or so years and I don't miss them a bit, not one single little bit. But I do miss the good times I supposedly had but can't remember much of. Were they really that good? Yes, and the hangovers were terrific!

So, here's wishing everyone a Happy and Clear-headed Fifth of July!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Wild Pitch" by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.

I can't recall from memory all of an author's works, but I do know that I had never heard of Wild Pitch by Mr, Guthrie. I ran across it at an estate sale and violated my order about buying more books. It is a hard-backed pocket book published by Popular Library Editions in 1973 and is a murder mystery that takes place in a small town in Montana. We see the tale through the eyes of a 17-year-old boy who carries a baseball with him most of the time and is the pitcher for the town's baseball team.

There are two murders to be solved, the first one takes place at night at the annual town picnic where a prominent resident is shot by a rifle. The second one comes later on where another resident is shot by his mailbox on a road out of town and over a hill from the house where he lived. The teenager gets involved because he is always hanging out at the Sheriff's Office and runs errands for the sheriff. He has a fingerprint kit that he practices with at home and at the office. He is always squeezing the baseball to build up the muscles in his pitching arm and he is a fine pitcher. He goes along with the sheriff as they interview about everyone that has associated with the murder victims to get a clue who killed them.There are the usual town characters, including the half-wit and an old spinster with dementia and two residents who are medical professionals, plus the local doctor. Also, there is a big- city detective assigned to assist the sheriff who knows it all, but is out-witted by the easy-going sheriff.

All-in-all, I give the book four stars. It is not in the class of The Big Sky or The Way West in my estimation, but it is an entertaining read of 224 pages.

(NOTE: The photo in the header is part of a series of the Sonoran Desert a couple of miles north of Wickenburg, AZ, in the springtime taken by my nephew, Russ Case. I will be showing more in the header as we go along.)