Run Dog, Run by Kathleen Kasta

front cover5My new release, Run Dog Run, was the very first mystery I wrote. I finished the first draft fifteen years ago. It came close to being published several times, but no cigar. I finally put it on the back burner and let it simmer for a few years. The manuscript has been revised and updated so many times I almost have the thing memorized. Two years ago, I updated it again (for technology changes faster than automobile designs) and sent it out. Black Opal Books sent me a contract, and there you have it.
The story takes place in the Texas Hill Country west of Austin. If you’ve never been there, you should treat yourself to a trip in the springtime when wildflowers are in bloom.

Excerpt from Run Dog Run:

She’d been foolish and gone off alone, now she might have to pay the ultimate price…
The rocks along the bottom of the creek bed seemed to disappear. Kate felt the ropy gnarl of tree roots instead.

The cedar break. She was approaching the road and soon the water would pass through the culvert. She knew that she would not make it through the narrow tunnel alive. Her lungs screamed for air. With one final attempt, she grabbed hold of a long cedar root growing along the side of the creek bank and hung on. Miraculously, it held. She wedged her foot under the tangled growth and anchored herself against the current. Inching her way upward, she thrust her head above water and gulped for air. But debris in the current slapped her in the face, and leaves and twigs filled her mouth, choking her. Dizziness overcame her ability to think—exhaustion prevented her from pulling herself higher.

She must not give in. Fighting unconsciousness, Kate inched her way up a little farther, and at last was able to take a clear breath. Her right arm hung loosely by her side, the back of the shaft had broken off in the tumble through the current, but the arrow was lodged in her arm. Numb from cold water and exhaustion, she lay on the bank as the water swept over her, and then, as quickly as it had arrived, the flow subsided and the current slowed. If she could hang on a few moments longer, survival looked promising. As thoughts of hope entered her mind, Kate feared that her pursuer might not have given up the chase. Perfect, Kate Caraway, just perfect. You screwed up again, she chided herself as the lights went out.

Synopsis:
After five years in Africa, researching the decline of elephant populations, Kate Caraway’s project comes to a screeching halt when she shoots a poacher and is forced to leave the country. Animal rights activist Kate Caraway travels to a friend’s ranch in Texas for a much-needed rest. But before she has a chance to unpack, her friend’s daughter pleads for Kate’s assistance. The young woman has become entangled in the ugly world of greyhound abuse and believes Kate is the only one with the experience and tenacity to expose the crime and find out who is responsible. On the case for only a few hours, Kate discovers a body, complicating the investigation by adding murder to the puzzle. Now, she’s in a race against time to find the killer before she becomes the next victim.

161118_003Bio:
Kathleen Kaska is the author two awarding-winning mystery series: the Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series set in the 1950s and the Classic Triviography Mystery Series, which includes The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book. Her first two Lockhart mysteries, Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Her latest Sydney Lockhart mystery, set in Austin, Texas, is Murder at the Driskill. When she is not writing, she spends much of her time with her husband traveling the back roads and byways around the country, looking for new venues for her mysteries and bird watching along the Texas coast and beyond. It was her passion for birds that led to the publication The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story (University Press of Florida).

Run Dog Run Kathleen’s her first mystery in the new Kate Caraway animal rights series.

Books are available through Black Opal Books, Kathleen’s website, and Amazon.
http://www.kathleenkaska.com
http://www.blackopalbooks.com

http://www.facebook.com/kathleenkaska

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Hell Hole of the West

63898-looking-south-west-on-spring-street-from-temple-block-1876El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles. Los Angeles. The wild, wild west indeed. Before the city, there was the ‘hell hole of the west’, the most violent place at the end of the Pacific Special. The place where everyone went when they had no place else to go. When you were driven out of everyplace else, you went west, just like Horace Greeley told you to. And once you hit Los Angeles that was the end of the road.

Los Angeles always attracted the outcast, the misfit, people on the run and people seeking change. There’s never been anything normal or ordinary about the city of Angels or the people who inhabit it.

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The first law in L.A. was a volunteer group of men who formed the Los Angeles Rangers in the early part of the nineteenth century. Unpaid, they lived off the largess of others for their equipment. The unit lasted roughly four years, then disbanded, leaving the already violent Los Angeles without a police presence. The county was overrun with bandits, gamblers, murderers and rustlers driven south by northern vigilantes. Vice of all kinds was not only legal, it was taxed.

To fill the void, the Vigilance Committee was formed in 1836. On October 13, 1854 Pinckney Clifford, a prominent businessman, was robbed and murdered by David Brown, a well-known bandit. The city Marshall jailed Brown, but the Vigilance Committee intended to take care of the killer. Mayor Stephen Foster intervened and convinced them to wait for the trial. But though convicted and sentenced to hang in January 12, 1855, his attorney convinced the California Supreme Court to grant a stay of execution. Instead another convicted murderer, a half-breed Indian was hanged.

Now provoked beyond reason, the Vigilance Committee, led by Mayor Stephen C Foster (who resigned his position to lead the lynch mob) forcibly removed Brown from his cell and hanged him. When Foster ran for re-election he was voted back in as Mayor on a landslide. Only in Los Angeles, you say? L.A. was also the first major metropolitan city to recall a Mayor from office, but that, as they say, is another story.

Before eBay there was Sears, Roebuck

Before there was an Internet, even before telephones and electricity were common in American homes, buying household good could be done from the comfort of your living room. Americans have always loved convenience. The first drive-through restaurant, the first automatic car wash, the first assembly line were all American inventions designed to make like easier and more convenient. Before the nineteenth century rolled out you could buy anything from groceries to houses through the mail, have it guaranteed and on credit. A Sears, Roebuck home ordered through the mail would go for a little more than a $1,000.00 and would be shipped by rail to anywhere in the US. Some of the Sears’ houses still stand, surely a testament to their quality. How many homes built today will be standing in 2120?

Browsing through an 1897 Sears, Roebuck & Co. Catalogue is a fascinating glimpse into the past. Into a past where there was no FDA or USDA to set rules on the safety of items sold, even the ones meant to be taken internally. You could buy tinctures of arsenic, belladona, digitalis and of course laudanum, a liquid heroin mixture. Turpentine was sold for internal use. Many of these concoctions were sold as cure-alls for ailments we haven’t even heard of today.

For instance, you could purchase Peruvian Wine of Coca, It was “urgently recommended” for such ailments as cures for anemia, impurity, impoverishment of the Blood, Consumption, weakness of the lungs, asthma, Nervous debility, loss of appetite, Malarial Complaints, Biliousness, Stomach Disorder, Dyspepsia, Languor and fatigue, Obesity, Loss of Forces and Weakness caused by excess and similar Diseases of the same nature. It was especially recommended for persons in delicate health and convalescents.

Or try Dr. Rose’s French Arsenic Complexion Wafers. Sarsaparilla would cure scrofula tuberculoses. ‘Female pills’ containing one or more abortifacients that carried the warning that they must be taken carefully for female troubles. Many of these compounds were concocted by Sears, Roebuck themselves and came with money back guarantees. The ingredients were never listed in either the catalogue or on the products themselves. No way of knowing what dosage you were getting or ever exactly what was in each potion. It was truly buyer beware in those days.

On a lighter side, you could buy an Electric Washer made of the best Virginia white cedar for $3.50. An Acme Hay Tedder could be had for $21.00. For $19.95 you could purchase the 1897 Encyclopedia Britannica. A Columbus A Grade Canopy Top Park Wagon Surrey went for $79.00 or $76.63 if you sent cash.
surrey
Sears, Roebuck offered discounts for cash and encouraged club purchases where several people would send in order together for more discounts. Sears, Roebuck also introduced monthly payments for their pricier objects. To give an idea of what the prices mean, a dollar in 1897 had a consumer price index of $26.70 or a GDP Deflator value of $23.60.

These catalogues are a wonderful glimpse into a different world long gone.

Richard Sears illustrated the cover of his 1894 catalog declaring it the “Book of Bargains: A Money Saver for Everyone,” and the “Cheapest Supply House on Earth,” claiming that “Our trade reaches around the World.” Sears also knew the importance of keeping customers, boldly stating that “We Can’t Afford to Lose a Customer.”

Icons

liberty2005What icon comes to mind when you hear the name New York City? For me it’s the Statue of Liberty. Others might think of the Empire State Building. What about Paris? The Eiffel Tower. London? Buckingham Palace. San Francisco? The Golden Gate Bridge. Egypt? The pyramids. The Sydney Opera House. The Great Wall of China, Mount Rushmore, the Taj Mahal…

All great monuments of their time that stand for ingenuity, craftsmanship and the indomitable spirit of mankind and our artistic skills.

Now think Los Angeles. I would hazard a guess that what pops to mind is Hollywood and the Hollywood sign or Graumann’s Chinese Theater. Vast monuments? Skillfully designed edifices that strike awe into people when they first see it?
hollywood sign and me
No, a nearly century-old advertising gimmick to sell lots in a city that was promoting growth. Harry Chandler, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, along with other wealthy Californians, was also a land speculator. He promoted the growth of Los Angeles, the Valley and of course, Hollywood. The sign meant to help him and the other investors to get richer went up in 1923 at the cost of $23,000. The LAND part of the sign was removed in 1949. It was fixed and made more permanent in 1978. In 2005 the metal sign was stripped and repainted white.

I guess in terms of monuments, it beats a giant donut.
Jawbone Pipeline
In actual fact, one of the greatest achievements of Los Angeles was the construction of the 233 mile Los Angeles aqueduct in the early 1900s, an engineering feat, doubled by the fact it was designed by a man with no formal engineering training who convinced a city of skeptics to fund the building of a pipeline that would bring water from Owens Lake to L.A. That the act destroyed a farming community and was empowered by corruption and greed, the monument is indeed a little tarnished. Still, without it, the city of Los Angeles would not exist and in my mind, the world would be diminished because of it. I explore this event in my upcoming novel, “Stolen Waters”, the third book in the Irish Immigrant series starting with “Ashes & Ice”. See more about the pipeline at Los Angeles Aqueduct images

This is part of why I love L.A. It’s not like anyplace else. Where else would pocket dogs be created. Where pet rocks actually became a craze. (I had a pet rock, but I didn’t buy him in some store, I caught him myself, up in the hills and I had to break him all by myself) Where people throng from all over the world to see the hand prints or footprints of men and (and the odd animal) they only know through the screen. Where even the cops are good looking. Where some east coast exiles came with a few black and white, grainy moving pictures and created a multi-billion dollar enterprise that has shaped beliefs and societies.

What’s not to love?

Historical Los Angeles

Law and Order in old Los Angeles

El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles.

Los Angeles. The wild, wild west indeed. Before the city, there was the ‘hell hole of the west’, the most violent place at the end of the Pacific Special. The place where everyone went when they had no place else to go. When you were driven out of everyplace else, you went west, just like Horace Greeley told you to. And once you hit Los Angeles that was the end of the road.

Calle de los Negros

Los Angeles has always attracted the outcast, the misfit, people on the run and people seeking change. There’s never been anything normal or ordinary about the city of Angels or the people who inhabit it. I ought to know, I lived there for 8 years.

The first ‘law’ in L.A. was a volunteer group of men who formed the Los Angeles Rangers in the early part of the nineteenth century. Unpaid, they lived off the magnanimity of others for their equipment. The unit lasted roughly four years, then disbanded, leaving the already violent Los Angeles without a police presence. The county was overrun with bandits, gamblers, murderers and rustlers driven south by northern vigilantes. The proto-city had the highest murder rate in America, far higher than New York City or Chicago. Vice of all kinds was not only legal, it was taxed.

The Vigilance Committee was formed in 1836 to fill this void. On October 13, 1854, Pinckney Clifford, a respected businessman, was robbed and murdered by David Brown, a well-known bandit. The city Marshall jailed Brown, but the Vigilance Committee intended to take care of the killer. Mayor Stephen Foster intervened and convinced them to wait for the trial. Convicted and sentenced to hang in January 12, 1855, his attorney convinced the California Supreme Court to grant a stay of execution. This caused an uproar, and claiming to have been provoked beyond reason, the Vigilance Group, led by Mayor Stephen C Foster (who had resigned his position to lead the lynch mob) forcibly removed Brown from his cell and hanged him.

Spring Street 1876

When Foster ran for re-election he was voted back in as Mayor in a landslide. Only in Los Angeles, you say? L.A. was also the first major metropolitan city to recall a Mayor from office, but that, as they say, is another story.

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