There is an old adage in writing fiction.  No, not the beat to death and should be buried under a mountain of lime one about “show, don’t tell.”  That one never made much sense to me especially when one considers what makes the bestseller list.  Not that I believe in the bestseller list much either.  For me it ranks right up there with political polling – it just does not have much reliability.

 

The writing adage I’m referring to is the one about “write what you know.”  Sure, there are those that argue against it (personally, I’m not going to kill folks just so I can write about murder in my book) but when you read it as a reader, without knowing a word about the author’s background bio, you know it.  There is that certain ring of truth that comes through when the author is writing about a subject that the author knows completely.  That is certainly true in George Wilhite’s case and the result is his very enjoyable novel, The Texas Rodeo Murder.

 

For English Department Professor Ira Carter, it begins with a phone call from his old friend Jake, publisher and owner of the Texas Rodeo Magazine that is disconnected seconds after Ira hears something that sounds like trouble.  Concerned, Ira goes off and finds his friend near death from a shotgun blast to the stomach.  He survives just long enough to get to the hospital and tell Ira to find J. D.

 

J. D. was John Davis who had ridden in the rodeo circuit years before along with Ira and a few other good friends.  Ira had eventually cut back to just taking pictures at the rodeos and occasionally doing clown performances as his regular job became teaching English at the rural campus of Hill County College. Around the same time, J. D. had crashed his truck into a lake in western Oklahoma and though his body was never found, was presumed dead.  His family, a wife and two boys, had moved back to live with her family on a reservation in New Mexico.

 

With Jake’s dying plea in his ears to find J. D. and an address in New Mexico in hand, Ira begins to hunt for J. D. The trail will cross into New Mexico before returning to the rodeo circuit in Central Texas.  Along the way the 34-year-old Ira will have to deal with the fact that others with dark intent are looking for J. D., that clowning at the rodeos isn’t as easy as it used to be, and that the sport he loves is changing and not necessarily for the better.  All that and the fact that romance can be more difficult than any bull in the ring.

 

George Wilhite uses his thirteen years of bare back riding, eight years of bull riding, and numerous other years experience in and around rodeos, to create an enjoyable and heavily atmospheric read.  By the time he is through, the world of the rodeo comes alive for the reader in every sense.  Along the way he also delivers a good mystery, a few twists and turns, some romance, and characters to care about.  The result is a good read, guaranteed to entertain, and a great introduction to a sport that one does not hear nearly enough about.  This is good stuff and well worth the read.

  

The Texas Rodeo Murder

By George Wilhite

Sunbelt/Eakin Press

www.eakinpress.com

2003

ISBN # 1-57168-779-3

Large Trade Paperback

178 Pages

  

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

   

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