It’s my pleasure today to be a part of author Michael Bigham’s Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tour for his debut release, HARKNESS.
As part of the tour, I’ll share my thoughts on this western-theme book and a brief bio of this ‘new-to-me’ author.
HARKNESS by Michael Bigham
Matt Harkness may be the sheriff of a small western town, but he’s a far cry from a typical western sheriff. He doesn’t get along with horses so he drives a ‘39 Chevy pickup dubbed ‘Hoopie,’ cowboy boots hurt his feet, and his sidekick is a wiener dog named Addison that adopted him.
His experience during World War II has shaped Harkness in both good and bad ways. He isn’t self-righteous or thinks himself above others because he’s the law. He is out for justice, but never loses sight of where his next drink is coming from or who the next woman he beds could be. The small town of Barnesville set on the Oregon High Desert in 1952 is full of secrets and Harkness is the keeper. His secret is he’s having an affair with the wife of the county’s most powerful man, the judge.
After a star-crossed teenage couple disappears, Harkness has to start revealing some of the town’s best kept secrets and then murder becomes a part of the investigation. Harkness is forced to deal with hideous crimes, one of which hits too close to home.
Bigham has crafted characters that are flawed and problematic. He’s given them realistic traits and actions that will cause you to like some, hate the others. He has created his protagonist with rough edges, but a good heart as he struggles to do the right thing.
The story deals with tough issues such as bigotry and spousal abuse in a plausible manner. Bigham incorporates bits of humor throughout to balance the story. He also explores keeping secrets and how they escalate to serious problems.
HARKNESS moves at a steady pace with a good blend of small-town activities adding to the story. The characters are authentic, the mystery compelling, and the outcome filled with surprises along the way.
While not your typical western, HARKNESS has enough flavor of the genre to appeal to western fans and not too much to discourage those who don’t like the genre. Matt Harkness reminds me a bit of Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae (of Lonesome Dove fame).
Bigham has done an excellent job with his debut release. He has created a protagonist in Matt Harkness readers will want to visit with again and again. HARKNESS is an entertaining read that will have you wishing you lived in Barnesville and glad you don’t.
Harkness: A High Desert Mystery by Michael Bigham, Muskrat Press, @2012, ISBN: 978-0615721972, Paperback, 198 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book as part of the author’s virtual book tour. A copy of the book was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Raised in the mill town of Prineville beneath blue skies and rim rocks, Michael Bigham attended the University of Oregon and during his collegiate summers, fought range fires on the Oregon High Desert for the Bureau of Land Management. He worked as a police officer with the Port of Portland and after leaving police work, obtained an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College.
Michael lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, daughter, and frisky dog.
For more on Michael, visit his website and find him on Goodreads and Twitter.
HARKNESS, Bigham’s first novel, is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Are you a western fan? If so, do you enjoy the older or modern take on westerns?