Scott Phillips Hop Alley: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9781619023079

Hop Alley: A Novel

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9781619023079: Hop Alley: A Novel

Cottonwood (2004) was a huge step forward for the burgeoning king of noir Scott Phillips, and his dark and gritty take on the western earned him starred reviews and praise from crime masters Michael Connelly and George Pelecanos. That novel featured the Kansas town beginning in 1872 when it was just a small community of run down farms, dusty roads, and two-bit crooks. Saloon owner and photographer Bill Ogden thought it could be more and allied with wealthy developer Marc Leval to capitalize on the advent of the railroad and the cattle trail that soon turned Cottonwood into a wild boomtown. But problems followed the money and soon Bill was confronting both the wicked family of serial killers known as the Bloody Benders as well as his one-time friend Marc, having fallen into an affair with his beautiful wife Maggie. Bill then turned up alone in San Francisco in 1890, having to face a past from which he could not run.

But what happened to him in those missing years? What happened to Maggie, to Bill, and their escape from the murderous Bender family?

Hop Alley answers all those questions as we return to the Wild West and discover Bill Ogden, now living as Bill Sadlaw, running a photo studio near the Chinese part of town know as Hop Alley in the frontier town of Denver in 1878. Left by Maggie, Bill enjoys an erotic affair with Priscilla, a fallen singer addicted to laudanum, who is also seeing his friend Ralph Banbury, the editor of the local Denver Bulletin (neither man minds sharing). Bill’s peaceful time away from Cottonwood turns anything but as he must confront the mysterious murder of his housekeeper’s brother-in-law, the increasing instability of Priscilla as both men try to ease out of her clutches, and an all out-riot across Hop Alley. And when the body count starts rising, Bill will soon start wishing he had never left Cottonwood at all.

Hop Alley proves that no one does the Wild West like noir master Scott Phillips.

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About the Author:

Scott Phillips is the author of The Ice Harvest, The Walkaway, Cottonwood, The Adjustment, and Rake. He was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas and lived for many years in France. He now lives with his wife and daughter in St. Louis, MO.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Maggie was unhappy. Six months with me in the wilderness proverbial but also, too often, literal had sapped the joy from her, that delightful ésprit that had attracted me to her as much as her considerable physical charms. As disastrous and miserable as the summer and fall of 1873 had been, the coming winter augured still worse, and as the weather had begun growing cooler Maggie’s normally garrulous and cheerful disposition curdled into an ominous silence, which I feared would end with her walking out on me to take her chances elsewhere.
It was my fault that we had been living in such a rude and penurious manner, crisscrossing the plains and stopping in towns too new or poor to have a permanent photographer, there making stereographic pictures of those few residents who could afford such a luxurious memento. Few of these towns had a boarding house suitable for a woman’s custom, and many was the night we slept in a canvas tent camped along a river; we considered ourselves very fortunate when we occasionally obtained permission to sleep in a hayloft stinking of horse piss, bare planks bespeckled with swallow shit.
I knew, too, that she missed the company of other women, for the towns we visited were largely populated by males of the sort who wander the western areas of our country looking for opportunity; seeing Maggie’s reaction to these villages I understood that they were unlikely, barring some fantastic stroke of good fortune, to attract many of the softer sex.

And so when we arrived at the city of Omaha, Nebraska I thought to regain some of her favor by checking into the Cozzens House hotel, which was reputed to be the finest in the middle of the nation, despite the town’s reputation for roughness, violence, and general squalor. Viewed from a purely economic standpoint this was not the wisest course of action open to me, but I hoped Maggie’s spirits would revive once she’d tasted a bit of the vie de luxe away from which I’d spirited her.
As I signed the guest ledger in a lobby whose opulence verged on vulgarity I asked the clerk where I could securely store a wagon loaded with photographic equipment and chemicals. He sniffed before each sentence he spoke, as though an air of imperiousness might counteract his hickish demeanor.
You can store it where you stable your animal, sir,” he said. Burwick’s livery is across the street and they’ll lock it away real tight for you.”
Pardon me, sir,” said a small, portly man standing nearby as I walked away from the desk holding the room key. He wore a well-cut suit of gabardine, and he spoke so quietly that it was necessary to lean in closely to understand what he was saying. This, I surmised, was due to embarrassment over his pronounced lisp.
I don’t mean to eavesdrop, but am I to understand that I am addressing a member of the photographic profession?”
You are,” I said.
My name is Daniel B. Silas. I am an attorney-at-law, and it happens that I have a client who’s in need of a good photographer. You are staying only for the night, or could you be persuaded to stay in our city for a day or two?”
My head was cocked at quite an angle trying to understand him, and at first I heard city” as shitty,” but I maintained my poise and didn’t snicker. Our plan was to depart in the morning,” I said, trying to appear casually disinterested but in fact overjoyed at the prospect of recouping what this extravagant interlude was draining from our meager savings. I would have assumed that a town of this size was full of photographic studios.”
Yes, sir, it is.” He looked around the lobby as though afraid he’d be overheard saying something incriminating, which piqued my interest further. None of them will take this job. On moral grounds.”
A-ha,” I said. I understand. That’s not something I’d be willing to risk, either. In any event the world is already full of girlie’ photographs.” I had no moral objections to dirty pictures, certainly I had after all taken a few, purely for my own pleasure, back in Kansas but I didn’t wish to run the risk of having them confiscated, thereby drawing attention to myself.
I had shocked him, and he hastened to correct my misapprehension. Oh, no, sir, you mistake my intent. What this gentleman wants isn’t anything objectionable. His problem is the local fellows either think it’s buncombe or they can’t make it happen.”
Can’t make what happen?”
He looked around, as though someone unseen might be listening, then leaned in just as I was doing.
Make the spirits of the dead appear,” he whispered, his eyes widening for effect. On a wet plate.”
Of course it was buncombe, of the purest and most foolish kind, but if there was money in it I was hardly in a position to turn it down. I’d never made a spirit photograph before but the gist of it was simple double exposure, and the examples I’d seen of the genre seemed either inartistic or unconvincing or both, and I loved a challenge.
Oh, I can make them appear. Tell me, who’s this gentleman?”

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Book Description COUNTERPOINT, United States, 2014. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Cottonwood (2004) was a huge step forward for the burgeoning king of noir Scott Phillips, and his dark and gritty take on the western earned him starred reviews and praise from crime masters Michael Connelly and George Pelecanos. That novel featured the Kansas town beginning in 1872 when it was just a small community of run down farms, dusty roads, and two-bit crooks. Saloon owner and photographer Bill Ogden thought it could be more and allied with wealthy developer Marc Leval to capitalize on the advent of the railroad and the cattle trail that soon turned Cottonwood into a wild boomtown. But problems followed the money and soon Bill was confronting both the wicked family of serial killers known as the Bloody Benders as well as his one-time friend Marc, having fallen into an affair with his beautiful wife Maggie. Bill then turned up alone in San Francisco in 1890, having to face a past from which he could not run. But what happened to him in those missing years? What happened to Maggie, to Bill, and their escape from the murderous Bender family? Hop Alley answers all those questions as we return to the Wild West and discover Bill Ogden, now living as Bill Sadlaw, running a photo studio near the Chinese part of town know as Hop Alley in the frontier town of Denver in 1878. Left by Maggie, Bill enjoys an erotic affair with Priscilla, a fallen singer addicted to laudanum, who is also seeing his friend Ralph Banbury, the editor of the local Denver Bulletin (neither man minds sharing). Bill s peaceful time away from Cottonwood turns anything but as he must confront the mysterious murder of his housekeeper s brother-in-law, the increasing instability of Priscilla as both men try to ease out of her clutches, and an all out-riot across Hop Alley. And when the body count starts rising, Bill will soon start wishing he had never left Cottonwood at all. Hop Alley proves that no one does the Wild West like noir master Scott Phillips. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781619023079

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