The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy The Kid By J. Michael Orenduff: Book Review/Guest Post/Giveaway

Jan 26, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow
& Michael Orenduff

This week we are reviewing Michael Orenduff’s latest mystery novel The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy The Kid. Michael also shares a guest post with us about the value of books. Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of the book.

The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy The Kid

Review by Cythnia Chow

The latest installment in the adventures of pot thief Hubie Schulze is an introspective one, as we find Hubie contemplating his choice of career spurred somewhat by his being abandoned in a New Mexico canyon with a corpse, a canine, and a coyote. As he relates the tale of his eventual rescue to Susannah, a professional graduate student and his platonic best friend, he continues to hang on to his belief that the corpse he discovered was in an ancient burial site and not a body dumped off by a murder. Unfortunately, a recent hole in the body’s hand leads Hubie to a local group of Penitentes and a circular problem of how to investigate a possible murder without a body, evidence, or most importantly, incriminating himself.

Always delightful are Hubie and Susannah’s conversational tap dances that are a mix of who’s-on-first, Grouch Marx, and the best dialogue written by Parnell Hall and Lawrence Block. Further misconceptions by Susannah’s family regarding their relationship have Hubie flummoxed but resigned, while her love of mysteries again has Susannah nudging Hubie into the investigation through a massive application of guilt.

This is a much more contemplative Hubie than we’ve seen before. Hubie has always separated himself from looters who desecrate and destroy the sites while Hubie believes that he instead salvages and sells the artwork, not the culture. Now, however, Hubie feels that those boundaries have become blurred and he is experiencing something of a professional midlife crisis. Hubie does find himself consoled by a new relationship with his exotic dental hygienist (once he is able to do more than just spit in a cup, of course).

The sixth Pot Thief mystery (after The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras) continues to incorporate tasty descriptions of New Mexican cuisine, verbal wordplay, and extremely likeable and engaging characters. Readers new to the series will discover that the author seamlessly weaves in backstories that never interrupt the plot and will not seem repetitive to loyal fans of the books. The plot glides along with a very classic mystery feel that ends in a modern twist, with the significance of the novel’s title becoming evident. Orenduff continues to write very humorous and delightful mysteries with a questionable hero the reader can’t help but love.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

How Much is a Book Worth?
by Mike Orenduff

Millions of people worldwide have received an email a few years back telling them they could download a free copy of The Naked Chef 2 by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. The email claimed the manuscript was leaked by a dissatisfied employee at Penguin, Oliver’s publisher. Oliver’s several previous cookbooks had sold over two million copies, so it is no wonder that Penguin was concerned. Robert Lands, a media specialist lawyer who represents Penguin and has also represented rock bands said “bootlegging” of music is common but that this was the first case of book piracy he had encountered.

What planet has he been living on? There are literally thousands of e-book piracy sites on the Internet. One of the best-known e-book pirate websites offered 77 Shadow Street by best-selling author Dean Koontz for free at the same time that Amazon customers were paying twenty bucks to pre-order it! Experts estimated that up to 20% of e-book downloads are from piracy sites. In 2011, The Publishers Association sent over a 100,000 notices to piracy sites ordering them to cease and desist. I doubt if any of them did.

Mike Orenduff

Some misguided individuals say that free books are a good thing, like free music (remember Napster?) and that this is a natural result of the openness of the Net. To them I say, better read them now, because there won’t be any if you keep pirating books. Many rock bands have given up making money on recordings. They realize that their music will be copied and passed around the globe, and they accept that as a good thing. It makes them more popular and fills the venues where they perform. Live performances and associated merchandize sales are how they make the big bucks.

But that model won’t work for authors. Anyone who has been to one of my books signings knows I’m an entertaining guy for an author. I even do magic tricks. But you are not likely to see a poster that says: “Celebrated Author Mike Orenduff to read from and talk about his books at Yankee Stadium next Saturday.”

Many authors are now selling their e-books on Kindle for 99 cents. I guess the idea is that if a book is cheap enough, it isn’t worth hunting down and dealing with a pirate just to save 99 cents. But here’s the other side of the coin. Is it worth it for me to write a book that sells for 99 cents?

Fortunately for me, most of my sales are in paper form. I attract a lot of traditional readers who enjoy the look and feel of a book made right here in the U.S.A. from simple recyclable material as opposed to one that is made of chemicals and metals in a sweat shop in China.

Don’t get me wrong. I do accept the royalty checks from my Kindle sales. My publisher frequently asks me what price I’m willing to sell my Kindle books for, and I always answer 4.99. I think they keep asking because they want another answer. They aren’t going to get one.

Unlike most products, there is little if any relationship between price and quality when it comes to books. Whether in paper or electronic form, some 99 cent books are great reads. Some twenty dollar books can’t be finished. How much is a book worth? It should be worth enough to keep the writer going so that he or she can do another one. Otherwise, there will eventually be no books at all.

Check out this past interview with Mike and review of another Pot Thief book & a review of The Pot Thief Who Studied D.H.Lawrence.

To enter to win a copy of The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy The Kid, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Billy”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 2, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Check out more mystery interviews/reviews by subscribing to the All Mystery e-Newsletter:


  1. To me, the value of a book is what all I learn from it or if I just plain enjoyed it!!! Over the years I have gathered so very many books and had to finally decide that once I read them, I trade them on, donate to the library (if they’re brand new the library I belong to will put it in their stock) and/or just give them to various libraries friends groups for their Book Sale. Books should be read until they fall apart — not mold sitting on a shelf! Thanks for a chance to try your book!

  2. I have heard The Pot Thief titles so often since I joined the DorothyL list that I had to get in the drawing and hopefully find out for myself.

  3. It’s about time I read a pot thief book!

  4. Sounds like an interesting read.

  5. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher


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