Book Review: Bullwhacked, by Kathy Cohen

The author scores a hit with her first book, a "comic crime novel" set in the colorful world of rodeo. Filled with entertaining characters and plot twists, it's a good read.
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The author scores a hit with her first book, a "comic crime novel" set in the colorful world of rodeo. Filled with entertaining characters and plot twists, it's a good read.

Bullrider Cooper Lydell has seen better days. He's a battered 45-year-old with a broken collarbone and all his money invested in entry fees for rodeos he won't be able to ride in. In desperation, he agrees to let his 23-year-old son, Tommy, ride the bulls in his place. Turns out the kid is a better rider than Coop.

Bullwhacked

The "old man" quickly retires from riding to manage the big money his son is making. Things are going great till the truck breaks down, a red convertible pulls alongside, and Tommy climbs in beside the pretty blonde driver. In a flash, Coop's son and breadwinner is gone.

When Tommy doesn't appear that night, Coop is sure he's been kidnapped, but his girlfriend, barrel racer Darla, thinks the kid is just having a fling. After three days of driving and searching, Darla suggests Coop call the credit card companies. Sure enough, somebody's living it up 800 miles away, using a credit card in his and his son's name.

And so the hunt begins, with Coop doggedly pursuing the people who have his son--and trying to avoid getting himself killed. While this sounds grim--and is, from Coop's perspective--author Kathy Cohen infuses the story with subtle humor as well as colorful characters and true-to-life rodeo scenes.

Bullwhacked is well written, with a plot that moves at a good pace and has more twists than a savvy rodeo bull. Rodeo, crime and comedy are not themes you often find together in one book. In fact, Cohen probably has a lock on the genre--and I hope she brings us more of Coop and friends/enemies.

About Kathy Cohen

When asked why she chose the rodeo circuit as the setting for Bullwhacked, Cohen says, "I wanted to use something that was distinctive, but something I knew a little about. I grew up showing quarter horses in the Midwest, and my stepfather is a very good horse trainer. We went to rodeos for entertainment and marveled at how dangerous the sport is. My stepfather once lent a pair of chaps to a contestant who was then killed in the arena. He felt too awkward to try to get the chaps back under the circumstances.

"I thought it would be interesting to use such a dangerous sport and yet find some humor in it. Bull riders are pretty macho guys, so I thought I'd try to show something less stereotypical to readers. I'd like to add that training and showing horses isn't like lounging in a recliner and watching the television, either. My stepfather suffered a fractured pelvis, brain trauma and many lesser injuries over the years, and I had one side of my face kicked in by a horse. Thank heavens for plastic surgeons!"

Bullwhacked is available on Amazon in paperback ($8.09) and Kindle ($3.99).