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Hook Runyon Mystery Books In Order

Publication Order of Hook Runyon Mystery Books

The Yard Dog (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Insane Train (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dead Man's Tunnel (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Hanging of Samuel Ash (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Bridge Troll Murders (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Russell is a former teacher and a retired professor in Oklahoma University since 2000. He wrote Empire, his first novel, in 1993, and further published three more historical books before publishing The Hook Runyon mystery books in 2009. The Yard Dog is the first book in the Hook Runyon series. A World War II book, talking about a murder investigation at an Oklahoma railroad enclosure, near a WWII German POW camp. We will review all four books in the Hook Runyon Mystery

The Yard Dog

At Waynoka Divisional Point, Hook Runyon is assigned to catch destitute workers and arrest petty thieves by the railroad near POW Camp Alva. Runyon is a war veteran left behind because he lost his arm in a car accident. He lives in a caboose, drinks cheap liquor, and collects rare books. A coal picker is run over by a reefer car and found dead. Hook and the local busted producer, Runt, suspect foul play. The series of events following this tragic accident extends to the nearby German camp, pushing both Hook and Runt beyond their functioning capacities. Detective hook Runyon is not easy to deal with; he’s had a rough share of his young life and became quite vulnerable. Dr. Reina Kaplan is a Jewish who’s recently transferred to Camp Alva and in charge of training the Nazi prisoners on the new world democracy essentials before their return to Germany. She’s also dealing with her demons.

Yard dog plays out in Oklahoma at the end of WWII. Hook Runyon must investigate the murder of an innocent man’s death which he believes was no, accident. Runyon discovers that Dugan, the dead man got himself killed by a local gang of army goods smugglers. As he uncovers more facts, Runyon suspects a massive operation gone sideways close to a Nazi POW camp—with a local gas business mogul. With the help of the area moonshiner, camp cook, and the camp’s English teacher, Hook Runyon and company find themselves ensnared in a dangerous investigation. Yard Dog combines a gripping story of conspiracy, crime, and cynicism set in a Nazi camp as World War II ended. The plot is attention-grabbing, and the setting is historically correct and incalculably reminiscent.

The Insane Train

Hook Runyon is the 1940’s historical Yard Dog (railroad security officer) at the Santa Fe Railroad. Runyon’s boss gives him a bizarre assignment. Hook has to oversee the safe transport of survivor victims of a terrible fire at the Baldwin Insane shelter in Barstow, California to a facility in Oklahoma. This crowd includes dangerous inmates, one of whom could be the main suspect of the fatal fire. Hook recruits four ex-military men, who live under a rail bridge, to assist with investigations, but they may not provide sufficient support if another killer strikes and the only accessible train may complete the journey back to Oklahoma. This edition provides a stark picture of post war victims, highlighting the extreme dangers and sad moments into the lives of mentally sick patients, the pain of the Great Depression, and an under managed, gang-manipulated rail industry. An excellent crime narrative made more entertaining with a well researched historical background.

Dead Man’s Tunnel

Railroad dog Hook Runyon, and his canine companion, Mixer; take on an assignment at the West Salvage backyard in the hot desert of Arizona, a few miles from the Johnson Canyon Tunnel. It seems remote but is the entry point to the steepest rail route in North America and a possible hold up for the war supplies delivery point. The tunnel point is so crucial that it must stay guarded round the clock by military personnel. Hook’s task is to apprehend copper thieves and to remain anonymous while on duty. Not long after his arrival, Hook must look into a new murder case where one of the guards on duty has been killed by a moving train. The army transport boss arrives to help with the investigations of the suicidal fatal death. The gathered evidence points to a possible homicide borne out of a sour love triangle.

Once again, detective hook must uncover the truth in the suspicious military murder. There’s a bit of symbolism in the operative’s name; Hook. We read of his hard life, for the most part, due to his highly stressful railroad crimes investigation job, his struggle with illegal alcohol intake; his physical deformities, (an artificial limb) and his ability to overcome all these hurdles. The author is funny and witty, and able to churn a beautifully crafted book containing diverse characters from across the world.

The Hanging of Samuel Ash

The fourth book, and the last in this world war II series, Hook Runyon the Railroad together with his best friend, Mixer, get busy with their daily chore of chasing down petty thieves on the Santa Fe line rail road. Another huge assignment comes in for detective Hook. This time he goes to investigate a broken down train signal in the desert. A young man hangs from the signal hook, left to die after a painful ordeal of strangulation. Detective Runyon cannot find any identification papers on the dead man’s body or his belongings. He has a bronze medal hanging from his neck, bearing the Samuel Ash. Another war Hero brutally murdered. Hook decided to honor him by locating his family for a decent burial and find his killers, to avenge his death.

He travels with the casket of the late Samuel Ash, accompanied by a man who won’t shut up in their entire voyage to Carmen, Oklahoma. The journey seems fruitless because no one’s heard of a man named Samuel Ash before. The local orphanage has some information but won’t corporate with Hook. Determined to bury the late Ash, Hook digs some more, into records, and further inquiries from the locals. There’s only so much a man can handle in this world. Russell shows how tenacity and passion into looking for answers on dead end walls, seems the only way to persevere extreme hardships. It is clear that everyone has lost someone in the devastating war. Death stings so badly, nobody wants to deal with it anymore, well, apart from detective Hook. Russell’s mystery series packs up with gripping tales of WWII, reminding us of the scores of the forgotten heroes, with their untold stories, buried deep in the ground.

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