Books By Russ

The Blue-Eyed Indian


Look  down some dark midnight street, into the black recesses of a smoky dive where  the scarred barroom floor is carpeted by broken teeth and dreams, and you will  find the Blue-Eyed Indian. He is the private detective who turns over the rock  of city life, doing the kind of work not likely to boost the sale of fedora  hats. Listen to the husky saxophone’s wail, lifting and dropping in sad echoes  off hard buildings. The click of heels on the harsh noir sidewalk your hear  through the black night is Travis, the Blue-Eyed Indian.  “A  Mickey Spillane for the nineties — hard-edged and thoroughly enjoyable.” Susan  Rogers Cooper, creator of E.J. Pugh mystery series

Black Like Blood


 She’s  back! In the sequel to No Murder Before Its Time, our reluctant amateur  detective returns to action.

Esbeth  Walters, a retired high school math teacher, tells herself she’s never too old  to learn something new the hard way when she takes a job as part-time dispatcher  at the Sheriff’s Department – this just after the mayor of a small town in the
county has been murdered.

New to the  area, she soon learns that somewhere under the crust of her newly adopted rural  Texas county there is a history of feuds, corruption, betrayal, and violence.  Wild talk  of a lost diamond mine helps to peel back the scab and she begins to wonder if  even Texas Ranger Tillis Macrory isn’t as tainted as the rest of them. He is  overly friendly to attractive deputy Gala and has sat at the card table of  gambler Morgan Lane. Esbeth tells him, “I think there’s something about this one
you needed, something that rattles you to your deeps.”

Tillis  isn’t helped when the murdered mayor’s son Donnie and his girlfriend, Karyn,  find another body – Denny’s brother Hugh, whose been missing for forty years.  Donnie and Karyn, daughter of Tillis’ game warden friend, Logan Rainey, can’t  seem to leave the mess alone, and their relentless digging unearths a side to  the story no one, not even Esbeth, could have expected.

Bent Red Moon


Texas Hill Country in the 1870s was as close to the devil’s stew pot as you can get. The Comanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne had banded together in a desperate last-ditch fight against the now apparent attempt to annihilate the buffalo herds. Rebels returning from the Civil War to counties that had voted not to secede began cattle rustling that led to massive feuds. The Ninth and Tenth Cavalry – known as “buffalo soldiers” by the Indians they fought – were mustering out only to find a hostile freedom at best. Rumors of a Lost San Saba mine were luring adventurers of the worst sort into the heart of this unforgiving mess.

It is into all this that seventeen-year-old Mick rides without a gun, looking for his last living relative, Bill Hinton, where he meets Syd, a Mexican girl, who is just as determined to find Bill Hinton. . . and kill him. Faced by a land as harsh as cactus and mesquite stickers, and as poisonous as a rattler’s bite, they join forces and search together.
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Bent Red Moon is a book that has it all: compelling characters, a non-stop-action can’t-put-the-book-down plot, and enough adventure, suspense, and excitement to fill several novels.  Author Russ Hall has nailed down one of the best westerns to come down the pike in many years.”  –  W.C. Jameson, author of Billy the Kid: Beyond the Grave and Buried Treasures of Texas

No Murder Before Its Time


Esbeth Walters is 72 and shouldn’t be messing around with murder, but when Texas Hill Country winemaster Win Castle pits his sons against each other over the inheritance of a 21,000 acre spread including the winery where Esbeth works part time, the result is murder, and Esbeth is in the middle of it with Texas Ranger Tillis Macrory and Sheriff Watkins thinking she knows more than she’s telling.

“This is my kind of mystery.  Tricky, wry, and packed with surprises and people you’d like to meet.  A fine job.”  –  Ed Gorman, author of Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool

  “Russ Hall produces an excellent vintage.  Great scenery, a fascinating look at the Texas wine industry, and a 72-year-old sleuth who’s got more kick than most characters half her age.  No Murder Before Its Time will agree with the most discriminating palate.”  –  Rick Riordan, winner of the Edgar, Anthony, and Shamus awards, and author of Cold Springs

“An interesting, fast-paced tale that keeps you turning the pages.  Hall brings his own unique twist to a cast of colorful Texas characters.”  –  Ben Rehder, author of Buck Fever and Bone Dry

“You don’t have to own a sophisticated palate to know that money, greed, and ambition too often ferment into serious trouble.  Experience Shakespearean-class family dysfunction with a Texas Hill Country vineyard twist in Russ Hall’s newest mystery.”  –  David Marion Wilkinson, author of Oblivion’s Altar.

Wildcat Did Growl


  An Adventure in the Bahamas
“What’s someone like you doing living out here all alone?”
Lea watched the green fronds toss back and forth in the gusting wind.  A large yellow bloom of a flower flew by fast.  The sky was getting so dark she could barely see a few feet down the hill.  It would rain soon, hard.
“When my brother Frank died, he left me the place.  We had fallen apart.  I promised myself if I came out here I would spend time trying to find out what he was like.  I mean, what he had become.”
There was a low rumble of thunder outside.  The thin one tugged back the tail of his t-shirt so she could see the butt of the gun tucked in his belt.  She felt a vein in her throat throbbing.  Thump.  Thump.  Thump.
Frank, she thought, what the hell have you gotten me into here?
“From the first page Russ Hall makes you smell the saltwater and hear the palm-fronds scratching.  His characters are vivid and real.  He writes with clarity and lightness. . .the eerie kind — like being in the eye of a hurricane. . .A first rate adventure novel.”
Michael Largo, author of Lies Within



 Doing a spot of shark and barracuda fishing in the lush green tropical charm of the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas was meant to be a pleasant diversion for two savvy men of the corporate business world. But things have never gone so wrong.

Cast ashore by a sea as tempestuous as their professional and personal lives, they cast their lot with Panamanian canal pilot Rolf, Doc Jocelyn, Monique, and Haitian John as bad becomes worse when an American ATF patrol stirs up two rival Jamaican weapons trafficking bands.

World Gone Wrong


In the dark summer nights someone squints into the cross hairs and squeezes the trigger, packs plastic explosives and charges the detonator, finds new and creative ways to kill politicians from one end of America to the other. The media is having a carnival!

The President of the United States knows more than he can say. Michael Colby, who thought he had retired from high tension cases, knows what has to be done. The public, and the screaming senators and representatives getting picked off like ducks at a shooting gallery, don’t know who is doing all the killing. But three college students do. The only thing everyone knows for sure is that it is a. . .

 World Gone Wrong

As the creative killings of top political figures pile up, in a different state each time, the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies have their hands full, and are getting nowhere. It is as if the killers are getting inside information from some highly placed official. Long ago Colby had made a choice for a family over his former life style. He is a reluctant warrior as he spearheads the hunt by a small covert agency in a race against the clock. His charge is to get the killers before any other agency, to handle things quietly, permanently. But the killers know his assignment as well as he does, and it is not long before they look for his soft spot, and then they learn of his family. . .

Inside Jupiter


Walt,14, and his sister Mindy, 12, are attacked by giant sword-bearing warrior butterflies in their first outing after crash landing inside Jupiter. The only survivors of their ship, they soon learn that all the remaining colonists are nearly their ages as well. All the tension does not stem from an environmental experiment gone wrong, where grasshoppers are the size of camels and praying mantises are as big as giraffes. The children do not get along that well either. Add to that predators that just want to eat you and the inside of Jupiter seems far from a happy wonderland.

Walt checked the sun and found the red outer ring growing. They didn’t have much time to find shelter. When he looked ahead again it was to see a rectangular big-eyed head push through a tall stand of reeds. Next to it another emerged. Grasshoppers, the biggest bull kind, tall as the camels on Earth, and each held one of the giant obsidian Viking axes. More and more emerged, and the end of them did not look in sight – a whole rear guard army, it seemed. The dragonflies that had only been on scouting sorties before now gathered into formations and came in organized groups as air support.

Talon’s Grip


A class reunion?

Arthur Sanderson remembers Frankie Lane  from their high school days as a pudgy nerd. Forty years later he sure seems lean and fit enough as he runs through an airport to the sound of guns firing. At the speed of a bullet Arthur’s reclusive life changes forever and he gets only brief chances to ponder what swept him into the path of action-filled chaos and who to trust . . . and who not to trust at all as he sorts through a tangle of agendas and romances past and present when thrust back into the lives of former cheerleader Poppy Perkin, class genius “Dirty Fingernails” Huff Ocher, and a handful of other classmates. Having grown up in the shadow of an Ohio nuclear plant now run by Unitalon’s Steve Hamilton, they don’t have to wonder long what brought an old spy like Frankie in out of the cold, they just have to figure out, in very little time, if they can work together to save the nation.

Bones of the Rain


   A murder at a Texas Folk Festival is no way to celebrate life with music, especially when it puts Travis, known by Austin papers as the Blue-Eyed Indian, in the crosshairs of the kind of back country paramilitary enthusiasm that means stringing up “Injun” P.I.s like piñatas.

Even the company of Cassie Winnick, a blond deputy who seems out to shake Travis’ image as the detective who never gets the girl, doesn’t keep this from being one of the scaliest cases he’s ever handled.

“Just remember,” a friend tells Travis, “there are people out there who can give the cold wet willies to even your worst nightmares.”

Before it is over, Travis is going to crave solitude like he never has before. . .if he survives.

South Austin Vampire


     Blood-drained bodies with two holes in their necks begin to show up on Austin’s night streets and the police seek to keep the murders quiet, because don’t you just know what the media is going to scream.

When Devil’s Due nightclub owner Owen Peasey hires Travis to see what’s bothering singer/songwriter Lola Pilloccherosi neither expect her to turn up as one of the victims within the week.

A trail that goes winding through the “live music capital of America” leads from fortune teller to tension between groups of illegal aliens to hints of a satanic cult . . . until before it’s over Trav is warned he may well be headed toward a confrontation with the Prince of Darkness himself.

Bullets in the Wind


“Hie-eeee.” The shout came from above him on the hill.       Clay turned just his head, kept the bow pointed down the hill. Behind him, higher up on the hill were three Comanche warriors with guns, the barrels of two of them pointed toward him. In the middle was a white-haired Indian on a paint pony. Four more ponies appeared over the crest of the hill until two more gun barrels and two drawn bows also pointed at him.                 The older Comanche looked down at him, without expression. His hair was white and long. Hawk feathers were tied to his pony’s mane in a call for rain that would have made Clay look up at the sky if he didn’t know he looked death square in the face.
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The rush for gold in Texas was, at best, a flash in the pan. That didn’t mean people weren’t ready to kill over rumors of strikes and lost mines.       Young Jud Harper, dragged into the area as an indentured servant, finds himself in the middle of stirred-up Indians, and desperate men, like Clay Bonner, who the Comanche call “ghost warrior”—a young man they would love to kill, if he isn’t already dead.      A troop of ex-rebels wants gold, as does rancher Burton Campbell and his fast-shooting cowhands. Miners pour into the area thick with greedy men who, disappointed in their search for gold, all fix their sights on Clay’s silver mine.Hoyt Maxton and his partner      Miles, two genuine hard cases, seek Curly Bob Ross, with an agenda of revenge, but they soon get swept into fighting for their lives.  Clay thinks only of Mariah, who couldn’t have picked a worse time to be pregnant.               Wind sweeps the Central Texas hills like a whip’s snap through the leather-slap of confrontations, chases, and bitter fights. It’s a hard and violent wind, filled with the crack of bullets in the wind.

To Hell and Gone in Texas


     Al and his brother Maury haven’t spoken to each other in twenty years, but they’re going to have to soon when they are swept into the vortex of the Texas drug scene and come up against one of the fiercest cells of the Mexican mafia. Maury’s life as a lady’s man is in stark contrast to Al’s woodsy life as a retired detective. Yet they’re brothers, and blood will have its way, especially when others seek to spill it in the brutal style that is becoming their trademark.

Three-Legged Horse


     Justin Bodean, 15, heads out into the untamed Texas of the mid-1870s with his father to seek a hidden stash of Civil War gold as they travel to see Aunt Sara. They get more adventure than they bargain for when bandits attack their stagecoach. Facing outlaws, renegade Comanche warriors, and landing right in the middle of a cattleman’s feud tests the courage Justin knew would be expected of him out in the west. It’s a far tougher place than Justin has ever been, and cowhand Lucas tells Justin that he has as much chance of making it out here as a three-legged horse.

A Turtle Roars in Texas


     Trouble Rides through Texas.
Detective Al Quinn had hoped to spend his retirement fishing at his lakeside home and taking care of the local deer. That bubble pops when Gladys Sanders, the sixty-year-old co-owner of an organic farm, is found dead by her two sisters, her body displayed like a scarecrow. On the same day, her son is run over in his kayak.Evidence slips away from the scene right under the noses of two deputies, so Sheriff Clayton asks Al to mentor a younger detective. That simple task explodes into raw danger when three rival biker gangs with ties to Mexican cartels start mixing it up in earnest. ICE Agent Jaime Avila tells Al that old turtles ought to leave the fighting to the young. But when the danger involves Al’s brother, Al dives into the heart of the ruckus. Before the war is over, the gangs just might get to hear the turtle roar.

Throw the Texas Dog a Bone

     Sure No Texas BBQ
Human bones are found in a furnace where dogs are euthanized at a shelter just outside Austin. Retired detective Al Quinn is called in, though he hasn’t committed to being full-time deputy for Sheriff Harold Clayton he is filling in until Clayton can hire or promote someone. Before he leaves the shelter Al has a companion, Tanner, a dog just two days away from being euthanized. The bones belong to more than one person, and that brings in a pesky FBI human trafficking team. Al must deal with them as well as training a new detective, a houseful of people when he’d planned to live alone, and now a dog as well. Add a burglary ring terrorizing the county who threaten his housemates and his new pet, and someone is just about to see the very dark side of Al Quinn.