Woods Cop mystery author Joseph Heywood takes readers to an era when people had to be as hard as the lives they lived. Meet Lute Bapcat, orphan, loner, former cowboy, Rough Rider, beaver trapper, a man who in 1913, with the enthusiastic recommendation by Theodore Roosevelt, himself, becomes one of the Michigan’s first civil service game wardens. His territory: The Keweenaw Peninsula, the state’s industrial center. Featuring a stunning array of characters, fascinating historical detail, and Heywood’s trademark writing about life and work in Michigan’s wild, Red Jacket asks Lute to confront an explosive, bloody labor strike; a siege-like sabotage, including a sudden rash of decapitated, spoiled deer; poisoned trout streams and well water; and unusual deforestation-all apparently designed by mine owners to deny nature’s bounty to the strikers, and thereby to break the union. The strike’s violence culminates in the Italian Hall disaster, during which a man allegedly yells fire in a small building with several hundred people inside. In the panic, 73 people are crushed or die of suffocation, the majority of them the children and wives of striking miners at the hall for a Christmas party.
Even with good people dying, the Michigan governor refuses to take sides. Should Lute Bapcat?
In 1913, Theodore Roosevelt recruits former Rough Rider Lute Bapcat to become a game warden on Michigan s Upper Peninsula in Heywood s absorbing first in a new series. Outsized characters, both real (athlete George Gipp before his Notre Dame fame, union organizer Mother Jones) and fictional (randy businesswoman Jaquelle Frei; Lute s Russian companion, Pinkhus Sergeyevich Zakov), pepper the narrative. Lute s extensive duties inevitably bring him into the conflict between powerful copper mining companies and their immigrant work force in Houghton and Keweenaw counties. As a strike looms, someone is orchestrating a campaign to slaughter deer, poison streams, flood animal dens, and cut fruit trees to deprive strikers of food sources. Violence is inevitable, and Lute and Pinkhus watch as tragedy unfolds despite their valiant efforts to prove who s behind the vicious destruction. Fans of Heywood s Woods Cop novels set on the Upper Peninsula (Force of Blood, etc.) should welcome this peek at the conservation movement s foundations.