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.)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Whoopee! It's Father's Day/A Monument in South Dakota

First of all, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

Second of all, if you're going to be in South Dakota in August, stop in Lemmon and watch the grand opening of the Hugh Glass Monument and Rendezvous Park to commemorate the famous grizzly encounter that nearly killed Hugh Glass. The attack occurred in August 1823 near the Shadehill Reservoir near Lemmon, South Dakota. In December, the movie The Revenant will be released starring none other than Leonard DiCaprio, telling the story of Hugh Glass, an early fur trapper.

For more info on the fur trade and Glass, pick up a copy of Win Blevins' Give Your Heart to the Hawks reviewed in my post of  June 4, 2015.

(Ref: An article from the June 18th Sun City Daily News, Grizzly tale inspires South Dakota festival.)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Jerked Me Away

Well, I was working on my book when I was dragged out of the chair with barely enough time to turn off the computer and unceremoniously thrown into the car to go shopping - again. So, for the last couple of weeks no words were added to my story. Had to go shopping for groceries for my relatives who were coming to pay a visit.

They showed up as scheduled and we got down to the serious business of entertaining, you know, SHOPPING!, eating out, laughing and joking or joking and laughing over some senseless thing that happened years ago, and playing poker. About all of our pennies were ripped from our piggy banks never to be seen again, we were such good poker players.

They had no sooner gone that more relatives appeared on our doorstep, and we had another round of practically the same. But don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it all except for the part that kept me from writing. The latter visitors had a vicious dog with them, one of those half-pint vicious miniature chihuahuas that wouldn't let me touch his food without getting a finger gnawed off. It was the only dog I've seen that never barked, he just growled in a low, threatening grr-rr, and his name was Pancho Villa, a far cry from the original.

No poker-playing this time, though. It was only SHOPPING!, eating out, and joking and laughing about old times growing up, etc., and a good time was had by all.

Maybe next week I can get back to writing.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Give Your Heart to the Hawks by Winfred Blevins

I started reading this book, Give Your Heart to the Hawks, and right away I knew that it was one of the best books I've read on the fur trade in the Rocky Mountains. Mister Blevins covers all the main characters involved, Jedediah Smith, General Ashley, Tom "Three Fingers" Fitzpatrick, Jim Bridger, John Colter, Hugh Glass, Pierre Chouteau, to name a few. He writes from the trapper point of view and makes it  personal by using their language to tell about themselves and the trapping trade, the rendezvous, and the battles with the Indians, mainly the Blackfoot tribe. Some didn't survive the battles or the life on the prairie and in the mountains. Most of the winters were tough and if they didn't have enough to eat, they went hungry. If they lived to age 40 or so, they changed lives and settled down to a more normal life with a squaw or went back to the settlements on the eastern bank of the Missouri. A few lived with the Indians and adopted the Indian ways, one became a tribal chief, Jim Beckwourth, the only black man.

The book also covers the competition between the fur companies, including the British in the Northwest, the grizzly bear attack on Hugh Glass and its aftermath, and the story-telling of the various trappers, the heavy drinking and fights at rendezvous time, other moral and immoral happenings The book includes a Glossary, Chronology of the Fur Trade, Notes, Index, and Bibliography.The edition I read is the First Avon Printing, 1976.

Win Blevins is a Spur Award Winner for his novels, Stone Song and So Wild a Dream.  He is the 2015 Owen Wister Award Winner for Lifetime Contributions to Western Literature. Congratulations are in order!