The Man Who Killed Shakespeare
In 1932, Shakespeare, New Mexico, is barely surviving the Depression and quietly, steadily slipping downhill. Lett Halsey has inherited the Roxy Jay Saloon, but he had no expectations as he arrives in Shakespeare to take possession of his legacy. The Roxy Jay’s clientele are almost all out-of-work miners who drink beer on credit. In lieu of wages, the bartender is eating as much food as he can consume. In addition to the saloon, Lett has also acquired several cabins out back, only two of which are occupied. Lett moves into the one that has been his brother’s home. The other is rented by Delight Jones, an aging prostitute. Then Sam Ransom, a con man on the run from a bad deal in San Francisco, arrives to open The Last Chance Mine. He hires a small crew of men, makes Lett his foreman and sets them to getting the old, abandoned mine ready to go into production. No one is more surprised than Sam when they find a rich vein of high grade gold and silver.
Ken Hodgson has written a poignantly funny story peopled with wonderful characters. From the Roxy Jay’s hangers-on to the sleazy con man and pompous, self-righteous bankers who are not above a little larceny to the down-and-out miners who have known hard work most of their lives, this novel screams authenticity. It is Grapes of Wrath and Paper Moon wrapped in a unique, vividly descriptive view of a deserted mining town gasping out its last breaths.