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.

The books I picked & why

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Roughing It

By Mark Twain,

Book cover of Roughing It

Why 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.


Fire and Fog: A Fremont Jones Mystery

By Dianne Day,

Book cover of Fire and Fog: A Fremont Jones Mystery

Why 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.


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

By Peter J. Heck,

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

Why 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.


Holmes on the Range: A Mystery

By Steve Hockensmith,

Book cover of Holmes on the Range: A Mystery

Why 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.


The Secret Life of Anna Blanc: Volume 1

By Jennifer Kincheloe,

Book cover of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc: Volume 1

Why 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.


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