Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Strike Dog
. . . .

Strike Dog

Glen Young - March 10th, 2008
A ‘Woods Cop’ is Back on the Beat
with Strike Dog
By Glen Young

Author Joe Heywood genuinely likes conservation officer Grady Service.
Heywood, a retired pharmaceutical executive, believes Service, the curmudgeonly Upper Peninsula “woods cop,” has a big heart, a sharp mind, and a knack for finding the bad guys.
Service is the fictional creation of Heywood, and the two have returned for a fifth installment of the “Woods Cop” mystery series published by The Lyons Press.
Heywood has pressed Service back into active duty in “Strike Dog,” the latest adventure in the series that began in 2001 with “Ice Hunter.”
A 1961 graduate of Rudyard High School, Heywood now lives in Portage, near Kalamazoo. But every year he returns to the U.P., riding alongside conservation officers and scouting new locations and new ideas. More than anything, however, Heywood finds a greater appreciation for the real-life woods cops.

ARMED FORCES
“Being alone in an environment where nearly everyone is armed,” is the hardest part of being a game warden, Heywood says. In addition, he feels “the biggest impediment is too few officers. They can’t cover territory as well as they’d like.”
Heywood says the idea for Grady Service came to him “strictly by serendipity.” Service first appeared as a minor character in Heywood’s 1993 novel “The Snow Fly.”
“I really liked Service,” Heywood says. “I arbitrarily made him a game warden.” After inventing him, Heywood “wondered what game wardens do,” so he contacted the Plainwell office of the Department of Natural Resources and began a longtime friendship with several woods cops, both close to home and across the state.
In his writing, Heywood doesn’t ease into Service’s troubles. In the opening pages of “Strike Dog,” Service’s girlfriend Maridly Nantz and his adult son Walter are killed in a car wreck, triggering a highly personal and keenly emotional storyline. When Service’s friend Wayno, a conservation officer in Wisconsin, is killed soon after, Grady Service finds himself investigating all three deaths for a connection.
“I didn’t know it was going to happen,” Heywood says of Nantz and Walter’s deaths. “When I first began drafting the book, I had her and the boy all the way through.”

INNER STRUGGLE
What Heywood realized while writing, however, is “life is not neat. Bad things happen to great people.”
Service struggles through his bad things, ranging from the U.P. to Wisconsin, and then to Arkansas, drawn into a national manhunt for a deranged killer who is targeting conservation officers. Working alongside other officers as well as the FBI, Service hopes to solve the several related murders while also preventing his own.
In reliable Service fashion, the solitary woodsman finds his colleagues a step short and a clue behind. The FBI agents prove to be even more limited than the woods cops, but no less inviting as characters.
Returning with Service are some of Heywood’s other memorable characters, including the disagreeable Limpy Allerdyce, the U.P.’s most despised poacher. Allerdyce claims to have changed, however. “He’s probably my favorite character,” Heywood says of Service’s nemesis.
Heywood admits that Service too is changing. “The way he’s evolving is in part greatly influenced by the people he’s around,” Heywood says. “He’s a shit magnet, but he’s becoming much more open to people. He’s showing himself to be a very caring person.”

TRUE TO THE U.P.
“Strike Dog” marks the widest geographical range for Service. “My agent for years was yelling at me to take (Service) to other parts of the country.” Heywood always believed “if there is a reason for him to go, I’ll take him there.” He says he has a new agent now who doesn’t bother him about Grady’s travels.
“Death Roe,” the next installment of the Woods Cop series, will be out in late 2008. Heywood is currently at work on the next mystery, and is hopeful this one will reach readers in 2009. He expects to complete at least 10 Grady Service mysteries, but admits he doesn’t have an end in mind for the series.
Heywood isn’t sure he would have made a good game warden himself. “I don’t think I have the listening skills.” He believes game wardens are successful when they don’t “draw quick immediate judgment on people,” something that takes great listening prowess.
He certainly does, however, demonstrate a keen ear in his characters’ above-the-bridge vernacular. His pitch-on delivery of U.P. colloquialisms parallels his careful attention to Yooper detail, from the taste of pasties to a disdain for “trolls.”
About the writing process, Heywood does say it’s “easier to write with an ending in mind; you know where you’re going.” He says he always has either a beginning or an ending in mind when he begins a book, but “if you have a beginning in mind and you don’t know where it’s going, that’s the hardest book to write.”
His writing habits involve heavy doses of writing longhand. “Then the next day I edit and type,” Heywood says. “It’s a constant process, edit and proofread.” He believes it’s “very much about discipline.” Something Grady Service would no doubt appreciate.
For more about both Heywood and Service, check out Heywood’s new website at www.josephheywood.com.
 
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