Charline Ratcliff Reviews: Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus

Jesse James

So, “Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus…” Say that three times fast! *chuckle*

Anyway, “Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus” is a two part story, which is why the reader starts in the present day (versus the mid-1800s) with the meeting of a rather irate Harvard history professor. Apparently, the most recent assignment from Professor Gladstone was an essay based upon, yup, you guessed it, history. Factual history that is; or at least a believable hypothesis surrounding said factual history.

Needless to say, I’m certain you can imagine Professor Gladstone’s complete and utter outrage when one of his lackluster students handed in an essay titled: “Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus.” The paper is rubbish, and it’s obviously a prank. In fact, it is so over the top that Professor Gladstone actually wonders if the school’s faculty is also involved. Maybe this is some sort of secret hazing by his fellow professors…

It is at this point that the reader meets Ulysses Hercules Baxter, the apathetic buffoon aka student behind the essay and the cause of the professor’s irritation. A long conversation begins, during which Baxter assures Professor Gladstone that this essay is not a joke. And apparently Baxter brought along the documentation to validate his claim.

The conversation between student and professor continues and as it does, so does this novel. This is where the second part of the book begins, the story of: “Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus.” I’m not going to provide more of either tale, but the reader will move back and forth between these two time lines. (Although the main portion of the book will revolve around the story of Jesse James).

Moving on to the writing… “Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus” was a well-written book. Author, Alex Mueck, does a great job of using the appropriate words/phrases from each time period to make his story more believable. His writing is clean and concise without becoming clinical or boring. Places, scenes and character interactions are obviously well-thought-out, and are explained with flourish and flair. In summary, Mueck is a gifted writer. Unfortunately, I, myself, was not a fan of this particular book. However, I’m certain that those who enjoy slapstick humor will find “Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus” to be a difficult book to set down.

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