Prather's Pick: 'Saving Laura' is an action-packed page turner

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Saving Laura

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Diane Prather

Author Jim Satterfield was in Craig awhile back for a book signing at Downtown Books. This week’s column is a review of “Saving Laura,” his newest book. (Autographed copies of the book are available at Downtown Books.)

Local readers may find this book intriguing — I did — because it has, in part, a local setting. When I opened the book to chapter one, I was surprised to find that the novel begins in Baggs, Wyo. at the Drifter’s Inn, in fact. And that’s not all.

Baker’s Peak, Craig, Hamilton, Meeker and Rifle are part of the book’s setting too. So is the Moffat County Courthouse, and the Moffat County Sheriff’s Department is involved in the action as well.

As the events of the novel progress, the setting moves to the Aspen/Basalt and so there’s a lot of western Colorado in the book. One thing is for sure; the author has researched the area well — right down to the odor of sulfur from the Glenwood Hot Springs.

Because the novel has a local setting, it reads as if it’s a true story. However, the characters and plot of “Saving Laura” are fictional.

The leading character of the novel is 21-year-old Lee Shelby, a graduate of Mesa College in Grand Junction. He lives in Basalt (when he’s not on the run).

From the prologue the reader learns that during a daring robbery that involved a can of mace, Shelby got off with five kilos of Peruvian flake and $75,000. He robbed drug dealer Tom Tucker, a resident of Aspen.

The novel is told in first-person by Shelby as he looks back on the events of 30 years before the fall of 1979, after the robbery.

Shelby is on the run from Tucker after the robbery. He’s been hitchhiking (with the bag of drugs and money) from Aspen, up through Wyoming, and now a trucker has let him off in Baggs.

At the Drifter’s Inn, Shelby is being eyed suspiciously by two Whyoming deputy sheriffs. So he hurriedly eats a hamburger, flees the restaurant and hitches a ride with a young man and woman who are headed to Craig.

Shelby climbs into the bed of the pickup truck and tells the driver that he intends to get out along the way. Shelby is going to walk to a cabin at Baker’s Peak.

However, it isn’t long until Shelby can see the flashing lights of a cruiser in the distance. The deputies are following them. They follow the pickup truck over the Colorado boarder too.

The lawmen get a break when the pickup truck suddenly conks out, stopping in the middle of the highway. Shelby bails out and jumps on over a barbed wire fence. It’s dark so it’s likely that he won’t be seen.

When the deputies arrive, a gunfight ensues between the young driver and deputies, leaving one deputy dead and the other badly injured. The young couple takes off in the lawmen’s vehicle.

Shelby doesn’t run off. He says to help the injured deputy, even using one of the radios to call for help.

When Shelby notices the flashing lights of vehicles from Craig, he takes off to Baker’s Peak. His destination is a cabin hi knows all too well because he helped his grandfather build it. Shelby has planned to stay out of sight for a month.

And so that’s the way the novel starts, and there’s plenty of action to come. Just why Shelby has taken drugs and money and what connection Tucker has to Laura is introduced gradually into the novel. The reader meets several interesting characters in the book (besides Tucker and Laura), including a writer friend who lives in Aspen, a dog named Jaws, and a DEA agent who doesn’t let anything get in his way in order to get his man.

This is an intriguing, action-packed novel that keeps the reader turning the pages.

“Saving Laura” is published by Ocean View Publishing (2013). The hardcover book is $26.95.

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