Cottonwood (2004) was a huge step forward for the burgeoning king of noir Scott Phillips, and his dark and gritty take on the western earned him starred reviews and praise from crime masters Michael Connelly and George Pelecanos. That novel featured the Kansas town beginning in 1872 when it was just a small community of run down farms, dusty roads, and two-bit crooks. Saloon owner and photographer Bill Ogden thought it could be more and allied with wealthy developer Marc Leval to capitalize on the advent of the railroad and the cattle trail that soon turned Cottonwood into a wild boomtown. But problems followed the money and soon Bill was confronting both the wicked family of serial killers known as the Bloody Benders as well as his one-time friend Marc, having fallen into an affair with his beautiful wife Maggie. Bill then turned up alone in San Francisco in 1890, having to face a past from which he could not run.
But what happened to him in those missing years? What happened to Maggie, to Bill, and their escape from the murderous Bender family?
Hop Alley answers all those questions as we return to the Wild West and discover Bill Ogden, now living as Bill Sadlaw, running a photo studio near the Chinese part of town know as Hop Alley in the frontier town of Denver in 1878. Left by Maggie, Bill enjoys an erotic affair with Priscilla, a fallen singer addicted to laudanum, who is also seeing his friend Ralph Banbury, the editor of the local Denver Bulletin (neither man minds sharing). Bill’s peaceful time away from Cottonwood turns anything but as he must confront the mysterious murder of his housekeeper’s brother-in-law, the increasing instability of Priscilla as both men try to ease out of her clutches, and an all out-riot across Hop Alley. And when the body count starts rising, Bill will soon start wishing he had never left Cottonwood at all.
Hop Alley proves that no one does the Wild West like noir master Scott Phillips.