THE MURDER OF HOUND DOG BATES by Robbie Branscum

THE MURDER OF HOUND DOG BATES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This latest of Branscom's colloquial hill-country tales opens with barefoot Sass Bates bent over the lifeless form of his beloved hound Certain that the dog has been murdered by one or more of the three aunts who have raised Sass and made no secret of despising the dog, Sass buries his pet in the front yard, marking the grave with a cross on which he carves: ""Here lies Hound Dog Bates who was made deader than a doornail with ground-up glass or somethin else cruel, murdered by aunt or aunts unknown. I, his master, will git even for him."" The aunts all profess innocence and appear decently sympathetic toward Sass, though they still have no kind words for the dog--and Sass goes on suspecting them. He confides his suspicions to Kelly O'Kelly, a stranger he meets nearby and invites home for dinner. Mr. Kelly, who is looking for a wife, promises to stay a while, help with the farm, and investigate the murder of Sass' ""best friend""--though he laughs silently on discovering that the friend was a hound dog. On Kelly's appearance Aunt Hope, at 30 or so the youngest of the aunts, starts dressing up and cooking up a storm, and soon the two are engaged. At the same time Clem Watts, who had long ago courted Aunts Faith and Veela (ages about 40 and 50), returns to inherit his father's farm; and these aunts too fix themselves up, just to teach the two-faced Clem a lesson. Sass is jealous for a while of Mr. Kelly turning from him to one of the suspects, but a passing tornado shows everyone up in the proper light. Then Kelly names Clem Watts as the hound dog's poisoner, and all-round satisfaction prevails. It's minor but sufficiently entertaining Branscum, in her now-familiar rustic mode.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Viking