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RATTLESNAKES IN THE ROCK CHALK by Chester Sullivan

RATTLESNAKES IN THE ROCK CHALK

by Chester Sullivan

484 pages
This page-turner covers a century of fabulous events.

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Category: Fiction:Literary
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About the Book
Based on numerous historical accounts and true stories this Kansas epic spans one hundred and twenty-five years from the 1868 steamboat adventure of a fourteen-year-old girl told in the manner of Mark Twain to the 1872 removal of Indians to Oklahoma up to the present day. Its bedrock event occurred in 1886 when Ansel Drucker, an unemployed printer from St Louis, took a job in Lawrence digging limestone. He learned to set dynamite, saved his money, and staked claim to a tract of free land on the bluffs overlooking the Kaw River. He then spent three years blasting out limestone blocks and stacking them in tidy piles atop his hermit's cave. He died in his cave and his limestone blocks lay dormant until 1894 when a Yale educated M.D. fresh from studying evolutionary biology in Paris came to teach at the college. This new teacher, Madison Burleigh, bought Drucker's land and used his limestone blocks to build Bluff House for his Philadelphian bride. A year later she fell to her death from its tower. Rumors grew she was entombed in the tower and her ghost haunted it. Bluff House was occupied by a family of thieves during the depression years and in the 1988 it was bought by a California winemaker who planted a vineyard. Drucker's original tract of land and the adjacent acreage became a wildlife preserve locally called the Snake Farm.

Anna Earlson, a pre-med student in biology, receives a fellowship to manage a reptile survey on the Snake Farm. Vivian Lassater, recently divorced, arrives from Santa Fe where she owned an art gallery. Vivian buys Bluff House and her life in Kansas becomes entwined with the lives of numerous townspeople, notably a neighbor who is researching the history of Madison Burleigh's properties: Bluff House, the Tower, and the Snake Farm. Rattlesnakes in the Rock Chalk flows like the Kaw River with its eddies, swirls, and crosscurrents mingling mystery, history, herpetology, and romance until pent-up forces rise to flood stage and quiet meditation erupts in violent action threatening the lives of these resilient people, all scrabbling to find their emotional toehold in the layered limestone, the sediment of ancient seas, early settlers called it rock chalk.

 

 

About the Author
Chester Sullivan's first novel, ALLIGATOR GAR, won the Texas Institute of Letters Award. His SULLIVAN'S HOLLOW was published by the U. Press of Miss. The first book of his current trilogy is ANSWERED PRAYERS. RATTLESNAKES IN THE ROCK CHALK is the second volume of his KAW TRILOGY.

 

 

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