Don Kurtwood, a university professor, and his father were never close. The only thing they had in common was a love of books, though their tastes were far apart. Don favored the classics while his father was strictly a reader of pulp fiction: mysteries, thrillers and especially westerns and the works of Max Brand and Louis L’ Amour. He read them over and over/
Notified of his father’s death, Don returns home to attend the funeral, help his Mom grieve, and clean up the hundreds and hundreds of paperbacks collected over the years (Mom already disposed of many boxes filled with books, but there are more). During the Viewing, surrounded by family and friends, a stranger approaches Don. He wants Don to come to his bookstore later that evening, claiming to have important information about Don’s father. Don felt the man was a greedy collector interested in buying his father’s collection of pulp fiction and had nerve showing up before his Dad was even in the ground.
Late that evening, Don goes to the man’s used bookstore, only to find the owner dead. During the police investigation into the store owner’s death, Don discovers the owner was not interested in purchasing his father’s book collection, his interest was in only one particular book. A western novel (Rides A Stranger) written by his father. This comes as a shock! His father never wrote a book and never spoke about writing a book. Don’s mother claims he did nothing but reading and watch TV during all their years of marriage. Did Dad have another life in the past that he never revealed?
Written by David Bell, Rides A Stranger, a short story, is not only a good mystery but an insightful look into asking how well do we know people, even our closest family members.