Reviews

THE BRIDGE TROLL MURDERS

“Set just after WWII, Russell's excellent fifth Hook Runyon mystery (after 2013's The Hanging of Samuel Ash) teams the Oklahoma railroad detective with Ria Wolfe, a Boston University graduate student in the budding area of forensic science. Ria, who wants to do field research for her dissertation on crime, meets Hook at the Waynoka rail yards, where she persuades him to allow her to observe him on the job. On their first outing, they come upon the murdered and mutilated body of a 16-year-old boy in a makeshift campsite under a railroad bridge. Other similarly mutilated corpses turn up along the railway line in Kansas and Texas. Ria and Hook, each in their separate ways, set out to catch the killer. Russell has created a fully realized protagonist: a man who loves to read fiction (he's fond of H.G. Wells's The Invisible Man), has experienced hard times as a former hobo, and knows the value of kindness. The often witty dialogue and seamless narrative prose carry the reader along to the satisfying resolution.” —Publishers Weekly (★ starred review)

“ . . . a joy to read from first page to last.” —Canada's Shelf Life, 4 BOOKMARKS

“Sheldon Russell's fifth book in his Hook Runyon mystery series is perhaps the best. . . . Those who have enjoyed Russell's other books should not overlook this one.” —Dennie Hall, The Oklahoman

“Russell, an accomplished writer of prize-winning historical fiction, delivers another hugely entertaining post-war mystery featuring his rough but sympathetic one-armed hero [Hook Runyon]. As with previous books in the series, The Bridge Troll Murders is enthralling, vividly descriptive, dryly amusing, and packed with interesting secondary characters. Murder mystery enthusiasts will want to grab hold of this book and ride all the way to its thrilling final stop!” —Nicholas Litchfield, Lancaster Post

“The written word is similar to music. The right configuration of notes produces a beautiful harmony. Russell's writing hits all the right notes, conveying the flavor of Runyon's surroundings, the unique characteristics of those he meets and the hobo philosophy. The author takes readers on an entertaining journey into the past of northwest Oklahoma and particularly the way railroads shaped the area.” —Marione Martin, Alva Review Courier

THE INSANE TRAIN

“Hook sets the rugged-but-sensitive tone of this outstanding series, which delivers thrilling action, great scenery and a full cast of complex characters searching for peace in a troubled postwar environment.” New York Times

“A fine crime novel made even richer with solid historical background.” Booklist

“Russell’s book is full of well-drawn characters, especially the homeless veterans who have returned to take up the wandering ways they’d lived during the Depression. Readers who enjoy exploring out-of-the-way corners of history will like the details about railroads and care of the mentally ill in 1940s that the author has used to help set the stage. For fans of historical mysteries.” Library Journal

“In Russell’s outstanding second Hook Runyon 1940s historical (after 2009’s The Yard Dog), Hook’s boss at the Santa Fe Railroad gives the railroad security agent (or “yard dog”) a herculean assignment. Hook must insure the safe transport of the survivors of a horrific fire at the Baldwin Insane Asylum in Barstow, Calif., that claimed dozens of lives to a facility in Oklahoma. This group includes dangerous inmates who’d been housed in the asylum’s security ward, one of whom may have started the fatal conflagration. Hook recruits four down-on-their-luck ex-army men, reduced to living under a train bridge, to help him, but their assistance may not be enough when a killer strikes en route. Russell imbues even bit characters with personality, and presents a rough-edged view of the world that will be familiar to fans of classic hard-boiled writers such as Chandler and Hammett.” Publishers Weekly (★ starred review)

“. . . engaging . . . ” San Jose Mercury News

“Fresh and original, it’s easily one of the best mysteries of the year.” The Denver Post

“...A good mystery that provides historical information on the era... ” The Oklahoman

“‘The Insane Train’ is the perfect mixture of history, mystery and humor that will keep readers entertained to the last page.” Las Vegas Review-Journal

THE YARD DOG

“...a marvelous read.” Booklist (starred review)

“...engrossing...” Publishers Weekly

“Reading The Yard Dog, I could feel the hot coal cinders from passing locomotive engines burn the back of my neck. The setting is pitch perfect mid-century American noir, and I'm hooked on Hook Runyon!” —James R. Benn, author, Evil For Evil: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery

“Rarely does a book the quality of The Yard Dog come along. Sheldon Russell is the sniper and Yard Dog hits the bull's-eye. Well-written characters, a diabolical plot and Nazis in an Oklahoma prison camp: The Yard Dog has everything it takes to make this the best mystery of the year—or in years! —Robert E. Vardeman, author, Death Channels

“Pungent as the coal smoke hanging over a railroad yard, Sheldon Russell's elegantly written The Yard Dog offers a fascinating glimpse of raw passions in an unusual World War II setting that is true to its time and place. As Oklahoma as Woody Guthrie, The Yard Dog is bound for glory." —Carolyn Hart, author, Dare to Die

“The era of the Greatest Generation is brought vividly to life in Sheldon Russell's outstanding novel, The Yard Dog, a compelling story of crime, conspiracy, and disillusionment set in an American POW camp at the end of WWII. The plot is gripping, the writing is crisp, and the setting is both historically accurate and immensely evocative. This is a terrific novel." —William Bernhardt, author, Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness