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Until his death, Don Kurtwood's father was known as a simple family man, defined by his blue collar career and obsessive, albeit pedestrian, reading habits. When a rare book dealer who seems to know more about the late Mr. Kurtwood than his own son does turns up at the wake, Don jumps at the opportunity to see a part of the man he hardly knew. However, before he can speak with him, the book dealer is murdered in his own shop, setting into motion a slow unraveling of the life of a man who everyone thought they knew. The imagined life of Don's father as a distant conservative with his nose stuck in a Louis L'Amour novel becomes shrouded in mystery when the police suggest that Don's father is the author of a highly coveted pulp western novel.
In Rides a Stranger, David Bell crafts a fascinating family drama in which even the most obvious character is not what he seems.