Monday, February 14, 2011
Dog Heavies, the third and final Lucas Hallam mystery by L.J. Washburn, takes us to Texas. Lucas and some other cowboys who work in the picture business are sent to a ranch outside Fort Worth to teach a young actor, Adrian Tremaine, how to appear like an authentic westerner in an upcoming big budget movie. The ranch needs the money it's getting for hosting the group because their cattle are being rustled, but that doesn't endear them to some of the working cowboys, especially the foreman, Armstrong. Armstrong picks on Teddy White Horse, a Native American, worse than the rest. Nice guy. Other than a bit of huffing and puffing, though, things are working out fairly well. The kid is learning the ropes (including roping), and the real cowboys start to respect the intruders. But a murder changes everything. Hallan has to use his private eyes skills to help the accused and discover not only who committed the crime, but who's behind the cattle thefts. No small task when the local law is hostile to his efforts.
A nice extra touch is seeing Lucas Hallam back on the turf he roamed as a youth. He's not one for nostalgia, but being on the ground of his old home pulls at the heartstrings of his memory for a touching moment. There's also the rancher's beautiful daughter and cussed old cook on hand to add a fun touch to the proceedings.
I hope these books sell well enough in their Kindle editons to inspire Washburn to write more. Lucas Hallam is too good a character, and 1920s Hollywood too great an era, to wither away.