Hustle Henry and the Cue Ball Kid

THE BOOK: Hustle Henry and the Cueball Kid


THE AUTHOR:  Jack B. Strandburg

THE EDITOR: Sherry Derr-Wille

THE PUBLISHER: Solstice Publishing – Established in 2008, name changed in 2010. Home in Farmington, Missouri. Very supportive and aggressive in assisting authors in marketing and promotion.

SUMMARY: Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid is a Western humor story taking place in late 1800’s – early 1900’s. Clarence Flannery was luckier than most men his age to discover his life’s ambition, particularly in the unpredictable years just following the Civil War. Born with an unmatched skill to play pool, he left his home in Kansas when he turned twenty-six and traveled throughout the Southwestern United States to make his mark as a legendary pool hustler, with every intention of amassing a fortune in the process.

Clarence needed help for both support and protection, and recruited James Skinner as his partner, along with nine other highly-skilled pool players to assist him in his quest. Wanting to be included in the same sentence as Attila the Hun and Alexander the Great, Clarence changed his name to Hustle Henry, Skinner became the Cue-Ball Kid, and the eleven men would go down in history as The Hole-in-the-Table-Bunch, known far and wide for hustling wannabe pool sharks out of their life savings.

All goes to plan and life has a rosy and profitable outlook, but Henry and his men want more than what pool halls and saloons offer, so they decide to challenge the more affluent clientele on a riverboat. Initially, the venture proves profitable, but the millionaire tycoon and owner of the fleet of riverboats, takes exception, and intends to bring down the Bunch and thrust Henry and The Kid into a life of destitution. Taking along the Kid’s girlfriend, Penelope Henderson, the Kid and Henry flee to South America – where there will be a final showdown.

THE BACK STORY: I wrote this book in the mid 1980’s originally just for fun – just playing around before I even realized I wanted to be a published author. At the time I had no intention of allowing anyone else to read it.  I can’t put a timeline to the publication because it was written, abandoned, resurrected a number of times after realizing it had potential. The bulk of the research for the Old West (what did people wear, how did they talk, etc) came after the editor reviewed the manuscript and provided me direction. I read through a number of books on the Old West and spent a lot of hours on the Internet. During the final revision stages, I added one of two plot twists and a few characters which I (and my editor BTW) agreed improved the story.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Just think Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Butch and Sundance.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? My book is unique because the main characters are far from tough Old West hombres – frankly they are somewhat wimpy. Anyone who enjoys watching the Airplane movies and Mel Brooks fans would enjoy the book, as well as Western and humor readers.


“As the novel suggests, this well-written novel delves into the activities of some unique characters. An assembled billiard playing team scramble from one escapade to another, finding it is not as easy to hustle as they’d hoped. Take your fill of witty lines, clever semaphores and bathroom talk. Although this is not a genre I normally like, Henry and the Kid meet old girlfriends along the way to ease the man-talk somewhat. Excellent descriptions give the flavor of North America, Argentina and Buenos Aires during the older days of 1908.”

 “I have to give accolades to the author for being unique — I never would have thought of writing a historical western about a pool hustler, of all things! In my opinion the book is one that you can’t take too seriously — it’s meant to be fun and light hearted and the writer accomplishes just that. I think guys would get a kick out of this one.”

“Clarence Flannery fell in love with the game of billiards at the age of eight. At thirty, he faces a dilemma – remain a farmer or follow his dream of easy money. Circumstances bring him to change his name to Hustle Henry and decide to form the best group of pool players around – The-Hole-In-The-Table-Bunch. James Talbot Skinner is a great pool player. He beats other men out of their clothes if they have nothing else to bet. Skinner loves his whiskey, downs three shots after each match. He meets up with Hustle Henry and is christened the Cue-Ball Kid. Their adventures take a down swing, and they take off for parts unknown. Can they figure out just who turned traitor in their former gang in time?”

“Jack B Strandburg sets about with a tale of the Wild West at its heyday, yet these men take on the beginning to settle down West in the early twentieth century. Strandburg’s characters are definitely that, characters. Hustle Henry’s antics on the chamber pot will bring about laughter, while the Cue-Ball Kid’s dour outlook on life seems to have no effect on their partner.”

“Hustle Henry and The Cue-Ball Kid has a nice, easy moving plot, until these two hustlers face up with all their sins in a showdown to beat all showdowns. The ending will have you cackling with laughter and wondering just what these two will get up to next.”

“I highly recommend Hustle Henry and The Cue-Ball Kid for all who love a great western tale, and a good laugh.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Jack Strandburg has been writing in one form or another since his teen years. He is a multiple degreed professional (Accounting and IT) with over 33 years business experience. He retired in 2009 and spends most of his time writing. Given his background in IT, he dedicates a lot of time (sometimes too much) developing a story writing process which he hopes will eventually minimize the time from the idea to finished manuscript. Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid is his first published novel, and although written in the Western Humor genre, his goal is to write and published primarily in the mystery genre. He is currently revising his first mystery novel as well as a novella, also a mystery with a supernatural twist, which originally started out as a short story. In addition, he is working on the outline for a second novella, as well as collecting notes for three or four other ideas. He is married with two children, two grandchildren with another on the way. He was born and raised in Northeaster Ohio, but currently lives in Southeast Texas, courtesy of multiple company transfers. He enjoys playing golf and exercising in his spare time.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Writing is by far the most challenging and often frustrating activity I’ve ever done, yet is the most rewarding, especially when I can read a manuscript and say, ‘now that’s pretty darn good.’ It’s impossible to measure all I have learned about writing, what works, what doesn’t work, all I’ve read and studied, and of course through the act of writing itself. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I’m not sure which, because I’ve learned so much over the years, I keep needing to go back and revise my works in progress, because what I thought was good writing five or ten years ago, simply won’t fly by my standards of today. I expect that will continue.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Here is the link to the book’s Prologue on my website)



Solstice Publishing:

PRICE: $2.99 (E-book); $11.99 (paperback)

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Email address:

FB page:


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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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