#18 Rendezvous With A Writer: Ride The "Stardust Trail"
Welcome to this week's Rendezvous With A Writer OutWest
feature book review of author J.R. Sanders "Stardust Trail: A Nate Ross Novel." This review, written by Ollie Reed, Jr. first appeared in his column "Reed's Reading" a quarterly book review and "Reprinted by permission, The Western Way
, Winter 2022, page 42." Scroll down to read Ollie Reed, Jr.'s review!
About the Book:
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Against his better judgment, Hollywood-hating private investigator Nate Ross takes on a Tinseltown case in the spring of 1938. It sounds like a milk run: find an alcoholic screenwriter whose absence is stalling production on Republic Pictures' latest Western.
, and many more like them, on our separate book website OutWest Shop Book Shop
, an affiliate of BookShop.org. We curated book lists representing the complicated, compelling, and engaging culture, history and diversity of the American West. J.R. Sanders Author of "Stardust Trail: A Nate Ross Novel"Reed's Reading: Recommendations & Book ReviewsOllie Reed, Jr.
"Reprinted by permission, The Western Way, Winter 2022, page 42."
Crime fiction with a Western setting is a fixture in today's poplular literature. I think you can trace that back to 1970 when "The Blessing Way," the first of author Tony Hillerman's bestselling series of Navajo Tribal Police mysteries, was published. The book reviewed in this month's column is an example of a Western whodunit genre that is alive and thriving.
I got the feeling the author had taken my order and written this book just for me. I'm a big fan of those hardboiled, wise-cracking private detectives made popular by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler back in the 1930s and '40s. I love B Western films starring the likes of Bob Steele, Tim McCoy, Sunset Carson and Johnny Mack Brown. And, of course, I'm big time into Westerm music. This novel, a finalist for the Western Writers of America 2021 Spur Award for historical novel, has all that.
Nate Ross is a private detective in 1938 Los Angeles. He used to be with the sheriff's department, but he got run out of there because he testified against crooked deputies, betrayed the brotherhood. Most cops don't like him for that, but he don't like them right back. He's tough, and he talks and thinks in Sam Spade parlance without making it sound like a parady. "I knew places like this, and the people who lived in them. Nothing in common but water-stained ceilings and broken dreams."
Early on, Ross rescues and returns a "kidnapped" dummy that belongs to ventriloquist and Western movie comic sidekick Max Terhune, earning him points with Republic Pictures. Soon Republic hires him to find out who is trying to sabotage the filming of a Western titled "Stardust Trail."
Next thing you know he is involved in murder, a decades-old train robbery and the life of Val, the prettiest part of a Western music trio called The Cady Sisters. The Cady Sisters perform at the Hackamore Club, where a lot of the cowboys who work as wranglers, stuntmen and extras on B Westerns hang out. John Wayne hangs out there, too. He's still making "Three Mesquitters" movies but is about to get his big break in John Ford's "Stagecoach."
Wayne also happens to be an old high school buddy of Ross and becomes a major player in this novel, riding to the rescue at one point.
The plot has more twists than a snorty bronc, taking you through the world of low-budget Westerns and lowlife hoods, down mean streets and into rugged canyons. It's a wild ride but a fun one all the way.
----Book Review by Ollie Reed, Jr.
Author J.R, Sanders and OutWest Shop's Bobbi Jean Bell
STARDUST TRAIL: A NATE ROSS NOVEL
OutWest Shop Book Review
Contributed By Bobbi Jean Bell - Co-Host The Writer's Block Radio Show
Although I’ve enjoyed interviewing over 300 authors on LA Talk Radio’s weekly radio show The Writer’s Block – I’ve never written a review! I hope that you will find something of interest here. I’m not an author or writer of any kind, I’m approaching the book as a reader – and I loved this book, in fact, I “inhaled” it!Author J.R, Sanders joined us on The Writer's Block Radio Show for a live interview. Take a listen!
I have been a fan of author J.R. Sanders from his first Western fiction title, “The Littlest Wrangler” to his acclaimed tribute to those who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty with little fanfare “Some Gave All: Forgotten Old West Lawmen Who Died With Their Boots On.” When he announced there was a new book in the works with a story line set in 1938 Hollywood and a cast of characters including a private detective, B- western movie actors, Marion Robert Morrison, Max Terhune and Elmer Sneezeweed, Herbert Yates of Republic Pictures as well as locations like Chatsworth’s Iverson Ranch and Vasquez Rocks…well, I was hooked!
This much anticipated book, “Stardust Trail” is out! And, worth the wait. Told through the eyes of Los Angeles based private investigator, Nate Ross hired by Republic Pictures, we see what he sees, and he describes his world in easy, uncomplicated terms yet with details that transport us right into his world. Nate Ross tells us what he prefers and what he thinks – we learn he likes pastrami and Pickwick Ale, he’s a skilled eavesdropper, he doesn’t like stakeout work or camping or hiking, he faces trouble head on, and he’s a deft investigator. He has a knack for getting folks to trust him and he does not betray that trust. I fell in love with Nate Ross from page one and am delighted to learn more books will follow.
J.R. Sanders, through Nate Ross, spins a story with 1938 household names – Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Yakima Canutt – some are important to the storyline like Nate’s high school friend “Duke Morrison” (later known as John Wayne) and others help set the time frame. His descriptions of locations are spot on, one of my favorite passages is the mule ride Nate and Dusty take through Vasquez Rocks - if you’ve never been there- J.R. nails it!
Pick up “Stardust Trail"
and get comfy in your favorite spot with your favorite beverage, tune out distractions – unless you’ve got music by Gene Autry or Dave Stamey handy – and settle in for an enjoyable ride along the Stardust Trail. Reviewed by Bobbi Jean Bell Co-Host “The Writer’s Block Radio Show” on LA Talk RadioMore About J.R. Sanders
is a native Kansan and longtime denizen of the L.A. suburbs. His interest in Old West history stems from childhood visits to the Dalton Gang hideout, Abilene, and Dodge City. His interest in crime dates back to his days as a police officer and a private investigator. His nonfiction articles regularly appear in magazines such as Law & Order and Wild West. J.R. is a member of the Western Writers of America, Western Fictioneers and International Thriller Writers. "The Littlest Wranger" and "Some Gave All" by J.R. SandersJim and Bobbi Jean Bell with J.R, SandersBuckaroo Book Shop Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival
---POST WRITTEN by OUTWEST SHOP BOOK GUIDE BOBBI JEAN
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Who are we to be your guides? We are two sisters who grew up in a family that valued reading and encouraged an interest in history and the arts. Wendy spent her career with books. She worked as a children's librarian and as the buyer and manager of the children's department of an independent bookstore. A college major in literature introduced her to the classics of the American West.
Bobbi Jean and her husband, Jim, own OutWest Shop. She was the manager and buyer for a museum store before they started their own business. Bobbi Jean co-hosts The Writer's Block on LA Talk Radio, where she interviews authors of all types. The three other radio shows she hosts involve Western music and horses. Find podcasts of all her shows at OutWest Live!
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