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Extended Audio Sample Big Wheat: A Tale of Bindlestiffs and Blood, by Richard A. Thompson Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Richard A. Thompson Narrator: Kevin Kenerl Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The summer of 1919 is now over, and on the high prairie, a small army of men, women, and machines moves across the land, harvesting the wheat. Custom threshers, steam engineers, bindle stiffs, cooks, camp followers, and hobos join the tide. Prosperous farmers proudly proclaim “Rain follows the plow,” meaning that the bounty of the land will never be exhausted. Wheat is king as people gleefully embrace the gospels of bounty and progress.

But with the wheat comes a serial killer who calls himself the Windmill Man and who believes he has a holy calling to water the newly plucked earth with blood. For him, the mobile harvest provides a target-rich environment, an endless supply of ready victims. He has been killing for years now and intends to kill for many more. Who could stop him? Nobody even knows he exists.

A young man named Charlie Krueger also follows the harvest. Jilted by his childhood sweetheart and estranged from his drunkard father, Charlie hopes to find a new life as a steam engineer. But in a newly harvested field in the nearly black Dakota night, he has come upon a strange man digging a grave. And in that moment, Charlie becomes the only person who has seen the face of a killer, the only person who can stop him—if he lives long enough. The sheriff is after Charlie for murdering the Windmill Man’s latest victim, and the Windmill Man has learned Charlie’s name and is now tracking him as well.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Poisoned Pen has smartly positioned itself as a small publishing house where authors of modest reputation are always welcome—so long as they have a strong regional voice. The powerful story Richard A. Thompson tells in Big Wheat begins with a serial murderer loose on the North Dakota prairie in 1919.”

    New York Times

  • “Thompson mixes elements of the Western with a well-devised mystery plot for an evocative look at the hardships of farming, the intersection of progress with old-fashioned ways, and the loneliness of the Great Plains.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Thompson’s first stand-alone…succeeds both as social history and blood-soaked suspense with a dollop of romance.”


  • “Another good story from Thompson. The plotting is deft, and young Charlie is irresistible.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Thompson has a real feel for the landscape and weather of the prairie, as well as the post-WWI timeframe of this mystery. Kevin Kenerly’s easy-listening narration style fits the story’s leisurely pace…Kenerly excels at defining the characters…all have distinct verbal mannerisms, which include varied accents, inflections, and speaking pace.”


  •  Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • An AudioFile Editors’ Pick for Best Reads while Traveling

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jane | 4/30/2011

    " Nearly gave this a pass because of the focus on manual wheat harvesting, but the reviews were excellent. I'm glad I read it -- enjoyed the mystery, and learned a lot about a subject I didn't realize was so interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Beth | 4/16/2011

    " This was something refreshingly different. A fast read but really good! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Travis | 3/28/2011

    " The book is short (around 230p). I have read similar stories where the author stretches what he has out to 600p for no reason. The concise story gives a flavor of the times and a sense of the characters without weighing the reader down with useless details and side-stories. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Marilyn | 3/25/2011

    " If I had wanted to know how a threahing machine worked, I might have liked this better. It took place, the plains at the turn of the 20th century, but it had too much detail that might interest a (male)farmer. The character's weren't developed enough for my taste. "

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About the Author
Author Richard A. Thompson

Richard A. Thompson is a former civil engineer and construction manager who traded his hard hat for a laptop and now writes full time. He plays tennis four days a week and builds museum-quality model ships.