“Pearl of Great Price” is a novella that came out with Sundown Press, a division of Prairie Rose Publications, in August of 2018. It was reprinted in book form along with a handful of other stories in a collection entitled Tales of the Old West, also by Sundown Press. “Pearl of Great Price” runs to 12,000 words, somewhere in the range between long short story and novella. As with other works I have written in middle length, this story found its own length according to the magnitude of the idea I had.
The story begins with a man named Willis Thorne crossing the line from Nebraska into Wyoming, along the Oregon Trail in the North Platte Valley. He meets a pleasant fellow named Tom Roberts, who has a wayside trading post and takes pride in his insect collection.
Through his new friend, Thorne learns a bit about the town. As time goes on, it becomes evident that Thorne is on the trail of someone in this town. The suspect emerges in the person of Reginald Minter, a wealthy grain merchant, land investor, and town leader. Thorne receives help in the person of Miss Lucy Greer, a newcomer who pretends to be in the market for farm land. Miss Greer attracts the attention of Minter the land baron, and the trading post proprietor gives Thorne and Miss Greer a place where they can meet unobserved.
This story, like others I have written, takes shape as a crossover western/mystery, with a theme of social justice. What Minter is hiding is more sinister and more reprehensible than crooked land deals or grain deals, and it is up to Thorne and his colleague Miss Greer to get to the bottom of it.
I would like to cite two aspects of this work that give me satisfaction. One is what I think of as its thematic value, and that is that people who commit crimes against other people and against society should be punished. Another is the matter of length. As I have mentioned in commentaries on other works of mine, I am glad that today’s publishing allows for works of variable length. And I am also glad that publishers such as Prairie Rose Publications are willing to produce stories of middle length along with more traditional short stories and novels.
“Pearl of Great Price” is available at Amazon.