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Hardrock Stiff (A Kurt Muller Mystery Book 2) [Kindle Edition]

Thomas Zigal
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Ned Carr is a miner, an irascible old coot who has held on to acres of prime real estate in the middle of Aspen’s ski slopes. Carr feuds with everyone, including the ski company and eco-warriors who want to shut down his mines. Sheriff Kurt Muller is the only person with a soft spot for Carr. Following up a suspicious call, Muller rushes to Carr’s mine—in time to witness the shaft explosion that kills him. Drawn into a dangerous covert war between militant greens and corporate forces grappling for control of the New West, Muller uncovers a conspiracy that could destroy his most cherished loves—the two children under his protection and the snowcapped wilderness he calls home.

Editorial Reviews Review

Thomas Zigal's second book about Aspen sheriff Kurt Muller (the first was Into Thin Air) is a strong, sad, exciting, and involving story. Muller's marriage has already fallen apart under the pressure of his career; now he's wondering if the strain on his six-year-old son Lennon is worth it. Another six-year-old boy--Lennon's friend Hunter Carr--is at the center of a story that begins when Hunter's grandfather, an old hardrock miner named Ned Carr, is blown up in his apparently worthless silver mine. A dedicated troublemaker, Ned has irritated everyone in the area, from the violent environmental activists called the Green Briars to an even more dangerous (and better funded) right-wing group known as the Free West Rebellion. A violent story, softened by fine moments of fatherhood.

From Publishers Weekly

Into Thin Air, Zigal's first book about Kurt Muller, was good; his second takes a quantum leap up to terrific. Muller is a complex, believable character, an ex-hippie who, 11 years ago, decided on a lark to run for sheriff of the Colorado county that includes Aspen. His marriage has already fallen apart; now he's wondering if the strain of the job on his six-year-old son, Lennon, is worth it. Another six-year-old boy?Lennon's friend Hunter Carr?is at the center of a story that begins when Hunter's grandfather, an old miner named Ned Carr, is blown up in his apparently worthless silver mine. A dedicated troublemaker, Ned has irritated everyone in the area, from the violent environmental activists called the Green Briars to an even more dangerous (and better funded) right-wing group known as the Free West Rebellion. But as gripping as the many action scenes are, what really lifts this novel to excellence is the way Zigal writes about fathers and children, the legacies the former leave the latter and the difficulties of negotiating between loyalty and independence. Throughout this strong, sad, constantly involving story, Zigal renders the deep bond between people and the land with a blend of complexity and conflict that enriches the genre.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1115 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer; Reprint edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005Z23TUG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,923 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zigal gives us a fun 5-star read. June 30, 2008
Like most readers who find read an author and love his or her work, I go back and try to find other books that are in print. Thomas Zigal's new release, Pariah, was so enjoyable that it sent me to the stack at my local library. There I found Hardrock Stiff, the second in the Kurt Muller mystery series, also set is Aspen.

I'm happy to report that I enjoyed Hardrock Stiff about ninety-nine percent as much as I enjoyed Pariah. Hardrock Stiff didn't have the suggestion of a ghost, but that didn't deter from the story.

In this episode, Kurt has six weeks left on his R&R and must decide if he wants to return as the Pitkin County Sheriff. He really doesn't have much choice when after receiving a midnight phone call from one of the old miners in the area. Kurt drives out to the mine to follow up with Ned Carr, and arrives just in time for Ned to be blown to bits. Was it an accident? Or was it murder?

Ned's contemporaries think it was probably an accident, but Kurt knows better. After all, Ned wouldn't leave behind his six-year-old orphaned grandson, Hunter. And although he's not officially on the sheriff's force, Kurt begins to use all his police skills to investigate his friend's death.

The rest of the story is an action-packed read from beginning to end. So many people are trying to claim ownership's to Ned's mines that it gets a little confusing, but Zigal does a great job in sorting it all out and keeping you up to speed.

From Aspen to Colorado Springs to Las Vegas, Kurt's sole occupation is to find out who killed Ned Carr. And there are many suspects, including his childhood friend Katrina Pfiel. A tad bit of romance helps to spice up this quick, fun read.

Armchair Interviews says: Hardrock Stiff is definitely a must-have beach read for the Summer of `08.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mine is a terrible thing to waste... March 28, 2012
By Expert
Format:Kindle Edition
Hardrock Stiff by Thomas Zigal presents Pitkin County Sheriff Kurt Muller in the investigation of the murder of Ned Carr who died in a mine explosion in beautiful Aspen Colorado. What begins as a routine homicide query soon morphs into a much bigger and badder scenario involving environmentalists and their evil nemesis, the Free West Rebellion. Fronted by a nefarious lawyer and VIProtex, a security company, the FWB want an end to environmental regulation in the West. This lofty conflict aside, Muller suspects a baser motivation for Carr's death and soon finds that his mine is valuable and coveted by others who will kill to achieve their goal. In harm's way are Muller's son Lennon and Carr's grandson Hunter, the heir to the mine. The environmentalists in this story are led by Kat Pfiel, a noted tree-hugger and romantic interest of Muller. Another character central to this tale is Muller's ex-wife who reconnects him to his free-spirit past and stirs his Fatherly angst.

Having worked in Colorado over many years, I looked forward to a good mystery set in the truly grand Rockies and Hardrock Stiff filled the bill with only minor drawbacks related to story length and complexity. Returns to previous pages were often necessary to connect the storyline and the plethora of characters made for some relationship difficulty. Local color was provided by the many Colorado mountain eccentrics but this cast could have been cut down for story simplification and streamlining. In contrast, Kurt Muller, the book's central character, should have been bolstered in dimension by a more detailed physical description beyond big. Hardrock Stiff is a good summer beach read but make sure you're booked on vacation for at least a week.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars surprisingly good! March 6, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this on a whim and will be buying the rest of the authors stuff, quite good. Likeable characters and not easily figured out, not overly gory (thank goodness)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hackneyed and predictable March 30, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the second of the three Kurt Muller novels, and I almost abandoned it half way through. The characters and plotting are wearisome and not interesting or engaging. While not exactly a polemic, the author's bias is loud and clear: greens, ultra-libs, and their ilk are the good guys, and business, the FBI, and the military are the bad guys. If your predilections align with the author's you may find these books more interesting than I did, but for me, the heavy handed political posturing overwhelmed any intrinsic value in the mystery and its solution. You may wish to borrow one of these books before investing in them, they do build on each other, but it is not necessary to read them in order.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but annoying April 2, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Plus side: Well written. Interesting Characters. Sense of place and time. Good local, background history provided. Paced well. Holds your interest.

Negative side: inserted lefty, snide, swipes for no useful or plot required reasons.

OK, I am not talking about the green movement vs. corporate greed, or land owners' rights, that is key to the plot. No, first, I am talking about inserting a swipe at Ronald Reagan for no compelling plot reason (and the story does not take place during his time as President).

Then, second, a gratuitous long paragraph insulting all vets (contemporary) who happen to live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the cheap, easy way of building up the protagonist (unhappy and mostly clueless Vietnam Vet) and providing back-story support for a nasty character (thuggish, brutish, other Vietnam Vet).

Well, now, the 1970s plot shorthand is back: crazy, warped, Vietnam vet, who is usually the bad guy or the victim or both. Missing parts: flashbacks to burning villages,raped women and bayoneted children at the order of some brutish officer or corrupt CIA type. If you are over 40, you remember all of this from Network TV and crappy movies of the period.

The insertions of this material is unworthy of a pretty good tale by a good writer. But, hey, taking the easy way out and giving a high five to lefty friends, reviewers and editors must be worth something.

I'm not sure I will follow the author after this one. Maybe I will. Undecided.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hardrock Stiff
I enjoyed this story very much.
The only thing that I was hesitant about at the beginning was the use of high class and technical words. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mona K. Fredrick
5.0 out of 5 stars sleuth work on multiple fronts
Another fun read with lots of characters. I hope there will be more stories to come with the Aspen areas idiosyncracies.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this adventure.
This is a excellent thriller that takes place Ina very unexpected areal the USA. The setting, the characters and the plot make this a great can't put it down story. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Dr. Joe
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked the book
Slow starter but good book. A little too {forgot the word for 'generic' to a location.}. Enjoyed the read. Bob
Published 12 months ago by Bobr
Funny stuff in auld criminal England. I found myself emulating the pronunciations and slang of the players after enjoying this quickie.Than goodness for Kindle's dictionary.
Published 12 months ago by Donald R. Shipman
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and wonderful improvement over the first book
I can't find a single thing about this book to find fault with. The story was consistent, evenly paced, characters fully developed, and an ending that was slightly predictable. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Bill Swann
5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER WONDERFUL NOVEL
Published 14 months ago by melanie
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this series
I wish there were more books in this series. The 3 kept my attention and were a joy to read and I found them on a special kindle purchase so really great find.
Published 14 months ago by Lynda
4.0 out of 5 stars hardrock stiff
this was quite an interesting book but I found it a bit drawn out in some passages, I did like reading it and I like the main character Kurt muller
Published 15 months ago by Dorothy Fowler
1.0 out of 5 stars Worse than the first book
I am really disappointed with this book and the 2 others with it. I won't be buying anything else from Thomas Zigal, and wish I hadn't bought the other 2 I did. Read more
Published 16 months ago by L. W.
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More About the Author

Thomas Zigal (1948) was born in Galveston, Texas, and grew up in nearby Texas City. He received a B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Kurt Muller mystery series set in Aspen, Colorado, and a thriller entitled The White League set in New Orleans. He has published short stories and book reviews in literary magazines and fiction anthologies for the past 30 years. Zigal lives in Austin, Texas.

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