THE HAM REPORTER
By Robert J. Randisi
Double Day Western
When picking up this volume, we noted the sub-titles being “A Novel of Bat Masterson in Twentieth-Century New York.” Randisi sets his creative imagination post Wild West life and career of the legendary lawman who once fought alongside other larger-than-life figures such as Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickock. Seeing the frontier succumbing to civilization, Masterson and his wife Emma migrated to the booming metropolis on the Hudson, New York City. There the one-time law-dog became a famous sports writer and eventual publisher.
As the tale opens, one of Masterson’s colleagues and fellow drinking mates, Inkspot Jones, a sports writer, suddenly goes missing. Attempts to involve his police detective friend, Charles Becker, prove fruitless. It is assumed the writer is simply on some drinking jaunt from which he’ll eventually resurface. Tragically it is the fellow’s corpse that floats to the surface thus morphing the missing person’s case as one of cold-blooded murder. Having no faith in the police’s ability to solve the crime, Masterson takes it upon himself to find the killer and provide Jones’ widow with some kind of justice.
Aiding him in the hunt is popular paper columnist, Damon Runyon. As the duo of amateur detectives begin to gather information on Jones’ last days, it soon becomes evident that the dead man had crossed paths with one of the Big Apple’s several crime lords. And in doing has suffered the consequences. Soon Masterson discovers the back alleys of the big city are just as dangerous as the streets of Doge City and Tombstone.
“The Ham Reporter” is a brilliant work of historical fiction wonderfully put forth by a craftsman. Randisi’s prose is fun and he spins his tall tale with vigor and affection guiding the reader to a fitting, gun-blasting climax. Our copy was picked up at a used bookstore. Here’s hoping you can find your own. It is truly worth looking for.