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The Hanging of Samuel Ash (A Hook Runyon Mystery) Hardcover – August 20, 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
Book 4 of 4 in the Hook Runyon Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A compelling lead compensates only in part for the relatively weak plot of Russell's fourth mystery featuring one-armed Santa Fe railroad bull Hook Runyon (after 2012's Dead Man's Tunnel), set during WWII against a backdrop of labor unrest. When Runyon checks out a nonworking signal on a remote stretch of track, he discovers a man's corpse hanging from the signal's cantilever. The only clue to the dead man's identity is a Bronze Star inscribed with the name Samuel Ash. Not wanting the war hero to be buried in a pauper's grave, Runyon takes custody of the body and embarks on a quest to find Ash's relatives and the truth about his death. A dose of humor lightens the gloom—pickpockets steal Runyon's wallet and badge while he's hunting pickpockets—but the mystery itself never picks up much steam. Fans will hope for a return to form next time. Agents: Michael and Susan Morgan Farris, Farris Literary Agency. (Aug.)

From Booklist

*Starred Review* One-armed railroad detective Hook Runyon feels as worn out as the Santa Fe’s rolling stock, essentially run to exhaustion by the demands of WWII. Wages have been frozen since 1942, and wildcat strikes are occurring. He’s also beleaguered by a skillful band of pickpockets working his lonely Texas–New Mexico right of way; the dips have even stolen Hook’s wallet and badge—twice. And he’s been assigned to train a well-intentioned but naive college boy as a yard dog. But Hook’s problems really grow when he discovers the corpse of a young man hanging from a railroad semaphore signal. The corpse carries no identification except for a military Bronze Star with the name Samuel Ash engraved on the back. Refusing to let a war hero be buried in an anonymous grave, Hook resolves to return Ash to his small Oklahoma home town. But what he finds is a small town hiding nasty secrets. Russell, a retired history professor (The Insane Train, 2010), again weaves solid history into entertaining crime fiction. He subtly conveys the malaise felt by railroad employees, who see their industry’s accelerating decline but cannot imagine another livelihood, as well as the sights, sounds, and even the smells of a fascinating world now largely gone. --Thomas Gaughan
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Product Details

  • Series: A Hook Runyon Mystery (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (August 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250001013
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250001016
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,667,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sheldon produced a book worth reading from beginning to end. There are moments within the book that create uncertainty of whether the main characters will survive. Palms get sweaty and you have to resist temptation to look ahead and find out if they are home free or have been thrown under the tracks blood and guts splayed into the dust. If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to hop trains, live like a hobo, solve murders, and catch pickpockets, then this book is for you.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This lives up to the other fine books in the Hook Runyon series. A cantankerous, slightly larcenous Hook doing his duty and then some as a railroad bull is a great addition to the mystery genre. The crime is vile, the solution intricate and the ending satisfying. This one's worth your time to read and savor.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I find Sheldon Russell to be an excellent author. I read one of his books and had to find out if he wrote more. He did and I purchased them all. So far I have read two of them and enjoyed them both.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved reading this book. That Hook can keep all his stories straight is the mystery. What a con man. But he's like a dog with a bone when he sets out to prove a point. He sounds like a hard nose but is a softy inside. Love Mixer. Hope his next book comes out soon.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For anyone who has not read Russell's Hook Runyon series, you are indeed missing out on a truly fantastic reading experience. A sad look into our history taking place around the lives of railroad people. Runyon is unlike any protagonist you have read about. Get this series, it is a super read..
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed two of the books and found them very entertaining and held my attention from start to finish. I plan to read the earlier books in the series and hope there will be more new books coming.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the fourth book in Sheldon Russell's excellent "Hook Runyon" series. The story stands alone, as do the other books in the series, so it's not necessary to have read the previous works in order to understand who Hook is and how he operates. In my opinion, each Hook Runyon book more sharply defines Hook's character and makes him more of a person I care about. The story line keeps the reader guessing as to the outcome and, once the end of the book is reached, leaves one truly looking forward to the next adventure. The author is a master of writing realistic dialogue and fashioning completely believable settings. It's my fervent hope that Hook and Mixer are around for a long, long time to come!
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