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the chicken hangerThe Chicken Hanger

by Ben Rehder


232 pages, 6 x 9 • Paper $23.95
ISBN 978-0-87565-436-2


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Ricky Delgado works as a chicken hanger at the poultry plant in Rugoso, Texas, a small border town just thirty miles south of Laredo. His quiet, illegal lifestyle is disrupted when he learns that his brother Tomás has been shot and injured shortly after crossing the border. Together, Ricky and Tomás must make a decision: to risk their illegal status and seek justice, or remain silent and endure the injustices common to all “wetbacks” within the states. Meanwhile, Ricky is fighting a battle within his own body, a disease he acquired in the poultry plant, unbeknownst to everyone but the crooked manager and the company’s doctor.


Herschel Gandy, a wealthy Rugoso ranch owner and self-appointed defender of the border, has taken to firing warning shots at illegals crossing over on his ranch. But when he finds a bloodied backpack near the place he had been shooting, the repercussions of his cover-up game affect the entire town.


Warren Coleman, the best border patrol agent in Rugoso, has been struggling with his conscience since allowing a trio of illegal aliens to cross one morning. One was obviously injured. After stopping a van smuggling drugs over the border, Warren shoots and kills the driver in his partner’s defense. He is immediately thrown into the national spotlight for his heroism, or brutality, depending on the source. While visiting his partner in the hospital, Warren again runs into the illegal with the injured hand. Fearing the consequences of his decisions, Warren must decide between leaving Rugoso for a new start, or pursuing his growing suspicion that there is more to discover about the Mexican’s injury.


Ben Rehder is a freelance writer, novelist, and outdoors enthusiast who lives with his wife near Austin, where he was born and raised. Rehder’s love of the outdoors has influenced much of his writing, including his Blanco County comic mysteries revolving around a Texas game warden and a colorful cast of rural characters. Novels from that six-book series made best-of-the-year lists in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Field & Stream. Buck Fever, the first in the series, was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America.