The best books that bring a touch of humor to the Old West

Fedora Amis Author Of Have Your Ticket Punched by Frank James
By Fedora Amis

Who am I?

I love history and I love to laugh. That’s why I brand myself as a writer of Victorian Whodunits with a touch of humor. I’ve spent decades learning about 1800s America. I began sharing that knowledge by performing in costume as real women of history. But I couldn’t be on stage all the time so I began writing the books I want to read, books that entertain while sticking to the basic facts of history and giving the flavor of an earlier time. I seek that great marriage of words that brings readers to a new understanding. As Albert Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” 


I wrote...

Have Your Ticket Punched by Frank James

By Fedora Amis,

Book cover of Have Your Ticket Punched by Frank James

What is my book about?

Investigating the death of a pugilist sends Jemmy  McBustle to illegal boxing bouts in 1898 St. Louis. She chases clues from the department store to Coroner’s office to the grand Jewish Fair. She visits City Jail to interview Jesse James’ smarter brother, legendary outlaw Frank James. She even explores the seedy world of patent medicine makers who flourished before the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.

Jemmy has troubles. Every person at the Illuminator newspaper hates her. Mother keeps trying to marry her off to a rich old geezer. Add into the mix a swarm of boarders at the McBustle boarding house, an uncooperative Thanksgiving turkey, and an entire family down with the flu. Oh, and there’s an ugly calico cat with a broken leg.

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The books I picked & why

Roughing It

By Mark Twain,

Book cover of Roughing It

Why did I love this book?

Mark Twain is my writing idol. Before Roughing it, I’d never read a book written during the Civil War era which didn’t take sides and grind axes. From it, I learned detachment, that personal adventures can live side-by-side with even the most earth-shattering events. And that hilarious stories like “Bemis and the Buffalo” are the best antidote for the chaos and pain of war.

By Mark Twain,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Roughing It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The celebrated author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn mixes fact and fiction in a rousing travelogue that serves as “a portrait of the artist as a young adventurer.”*
 
In 1861, young Mark Twain found himself adrift as a newcomer in the Wild West, working as a civil servant, silver prospector, mill worker, and finally a reporter and traveling lecturer. Roughing It is the hilarious record of those early years traveling from Nevada to California to Hawaii, as Twain tried his luck at anything and everything—and usually failed. Twain’s encounters with tarantulas and donkeys, vigilantes…


Book cover of Fire and Fog: A Fremont Jones Mystery

Why did I love this book?

Diane Day’s Fremont Jones is a heroine after my own heart. She remains plucky throughout the entire series, even though the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. Of course, a plucky woman in the first decade of the 20th century was bound to run afoul of society and propriety. Fremont found herself in scrape after silly scrape. This is a mystery with lots of fun. But more than that, it offers a charming sense of life in the olden days during the times that tried women’s souls.

By Dianne Day,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fire and Fog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Awakening to find herself in the middle of the Great San Francisco Earthquake, Miss Fremont Jones struggles to escape the ensuing chaos while learning how to drive, avoiding ardent suitors, and investigating two murderous smugglers.


Book cover of A Connecticut Yankee in Criminal Court: The Mark Twain Mysteries #2

Why did I love this book?

I admire chutzpah. Of all the authors who channel Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, and countless others, I admire Peter Heck the most. He takes on the Herculean task of matching historical humor with our national treasure Mark Twain. Oddly enough, his example gave me courage, or at least permission, to try something other than historical whodunits. I wrote book-length magic realism and am seeking a publisher.

By Peter J. Heck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Connecticut Yankee in Criminal Court as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beneath the charm of New Orleans lay a mix of corruption and racism that had a black man set to hang for a murder he didn't commit. "Detective" Mark Twain, together with travelling secretary Wentworth Cabot, set about the dangerous business of finding out the truth that some wished to keep hidden.


Holmes on the Range

By Steve Hockensmith,

Book cover of Holmes on the Range

Why did I love this book?

Steve Hockensmith is a hoot. I love this book. It features Sherlock Holmes wannabe Old Red and boyish galoot Big Red as the Huck Finn version of Watson. Steve’s books are raucously funny while offering a brand new perspective on the last decade of the 19th century.

By Steve Hockensmith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Holmes on the Range as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Somewhere due west of Deadwood, a pair of unlikely cowboy sleuths investigate murder just like their hero, Sherlock Holmes. 1893 is a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at the secretive Bar- VR cattle spread, they're not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a comfortable campfire around which they can enjoy their favourite pastime: scouring Harpers J,Veekly for stories about the famous Sherlock Holmes. When another ranch hand turns up in an outhouse with a bullet in his brain, Old…


The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

By Jennifer Kincheloe,

Book cover of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

Why did I love this book?

This book is laugh-out-loud funny. The rich socialite heroine is quite intelligent in some things and ridiculously stupid in others. The whole book is absolutely unbelievable, but utterly delightful – and way beyond society's terms of approval for women in 1907 Los Angeles. Sometimes a book doesn’t have to be anything but a joy to read. This one delivers.

By Jennifer Kincheloe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Life of Anna Blanc as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels—but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals. 

Determined to break free of the era's rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her…


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