"The Case of the Three-Toed Tree Sloth" is ALMOST HERE!

Friday, September 14, 2018 | By Nikki, Maverick Books staff


Howdy Hank-fans! 


Hank 72
Hank #72, "The Case of the Three-Toed Sloth," comes out at the end of this month, and you're in for a hilarious tale of cowdog buffoonery!


Time to call in the cavalry!

Pete the Barncat isn’t known for his reliable story-telling, but when his report about a strange, tree-devouring creature is corroborated by another source—namely J.T. Cluck, the ranch’s head rooster—Hank decides to investigate.  However, just as the plot begins to thicken, Pete claims that it was all a joke and that the creature, a Three-Toed Tree Sloth, was really just a porcupine! Fortunately, Hank realizes that that’s just what a sneaky cat would say to throw him off the trail, and his continued investigation soon leads him to a strange, bumbling little creature—the Tree Sloth at last! With the finely-tuned instincts of a Head of Ranch Security, Hank realizes that he must arrest this intruder! However, things don’t turn out quite like he’d planned, and Hank soon has a very serious problem on his hands...


From Chapter Four of Hank the Cowdog #72,

"Elsa's Frightening Report"

... J.T. called out, “Hey, what about the bugs?”

“I don’t care about your bugs or your scandals.”

Again, he stepped into my path, his weird red eyes blazing.  “All right, Mister Hot Shot Guard Dog, then let’s get down to another problem, and this one’s really serious.”

“I’ll give you two minutes.”

He glanced around and lowered his voice.  “Last night, that old hen was scratching like crazy and Elsa couldn’t sleep.  She went out for a walk.”

“Hurry up.”Hank chapter 4

“I’m a-getting there, just hold your horses.  Elsa went for a little stroll in the moonlight, see, and suddenly and all at once, she seen…”  He had my attention and I waited to hear the rest of his report, but what came out was a ridiculous little chicken burp.  “That dad-ratted heartburn’s got me again!”

My spirits sank.  “Oh brother!   Is this going to turn into another of your heartburn stories?”

“Well, no, but I ate a squash bug this morning and now he’s tearing me up.”  He squeezed out another ridiculous burp.  “You know, squash bugs look pretty appetizing at first, but what a guy forgets is that they release that smell.  You ever smelled a squash bug?”

“Do I look dumb enough to go around smelling bugs?”

“Pooch, we do it all the time.”

“Exactly my point.  Hurry up.”

“Well, when you get squash bugs stirred up, they release this smell, and it’s kind of sickly sweet. When the bug gets down to your gizzard, the sweet is gone and what’s left is the sickly.  It’ll give you the darndest heartburn you ever saw.”

I moved closer and exposed two rows of fangs.  “J.T., try to concentrate.”

“That’s what I’m a-doing.”

“No more heartburn stories.  Did Elsa see something in the dark or not?”

“She sure did, but how’d you know?”

“You were fixing to tell me about it when you got overwhelmed by your heartburn.”

“Oh yeah, it’s a-coming back to me now.  I’ll finish the story, if you’ll quit butting into my business.”

“Hurry up.  Two minutes and I’m gone.”

He hiked up one leg and a tucked it under his wing.  Roosters stand that way sometimes, I don’t know why.  Maybe it helped him focus his tiny mind.

“Elsa was out walking, don’t you know, and all at once, she seen some kind of…”  His voice dropped into a whispered horse…into a hoarse whisper, that is, and he said, “She seen some kind of strange creature in the dark!”

A strange creature in the dark.  He had my full attention now. “J.T., before we go any farther, I must know if you’ve discussed this matter with the local cat.”

“The local what?”

“Cat.  His name’s Pete, otherwise known as Mister Never Sweat.  He stays in the yard.”

“Oh, him.  No, I don’t talk to cats.  You can’t trust ‘em, ‘cause you never know what’s going on behind them eyes.  They’ve got weird eyes.” 

“I agree.  Go on with your story and get straight to the point.  What kind of strange creature did Elsa see?  I need facts and details.”

I detected a hint of fear in his eyes.  “Pooch, Elsa had never seen anything like this in all her put-together years.” 



“I need some kind of description.”

“Oh.”  His gaze lifted to the sky.  “Cranes are flying south.”

“You mean it was a bird?”

“Yes, they’re birds, long skinny legs and a long beak.  They eat fish.”

“Elsa saw a bird eating fish in the middle of the night?”

His eyes drifted down to me.  “What are you talking about?”

“What are YOU talking about?”

“I said the cranes are flying south.”  He pointed a wing toward a V-shaped formation of birds in the sky.  “They do it every year in the fall.  Can’t you hear ‘em honking?”

“I hear them honking and I don’t care about cranes.  What did Elsa see in the dark?”

“Oh yeah.  Well, let me think.  She said…”

This next part was strange.  He’d been standing on one leg, remember?  And all at once he started using the three toes on his uplifted leg to scratch his wingpit…armpit, whatever you call that thing on a... 

Wait, hold everything!  A Three-Toed Tree Toad has three toes, and so does a chicken’s foot.  Was this some kind of clue that I’d been missing?  Notice that in both examples, we have a common theme:  THREE TOES.  

I leaned closer and listened, memorizing every tiny detail.  J.T. was scratching himself and said, “That old biddy gave me her bugs!  I knew this was going to happen!”

Forget the three toes on a chicken’s foot.  It wasn’t a clue and I was one breath away from blowing up, but had to muster the patience to drag some facts out of the witness.  

“J.T., stop scratching and finish the story.  Think.  Concentrate.  What kind of creature did Elsa see in the dark?”

He stopped scratching and stared at several feathers floating around in the air.  “Well, here’s what she told me, pooch, and these were her very words.  She said this strange creature looked like a beaver with a bad haircut.”

Those words sent a shock wave down my back.  “A beaver with a bad haircut?”

“That’s what she said.  It wasn’t exactly a beaver, and it had a crazy hairdo.”

I began pacing in front of him, as I often do when a case is coming together.  “J.T., I’ve been working this case for weeks and I think we’re finally onto something.  Question.”  I stopped and whirled around.  “Is it possible that she saw a Three-Footed Tree Sloth?”

“Never heard of it.”

“That wasn’t the question.  This court doesn’t care whether you’ve heard of it or not.  The question was, could it have been a Slew-Footed Tree Sloth?”


“Yes or no?”

“You’re too pushy.”

“Yes or no?”

“Well, it could have been anything, so…yes.”

“Bingo!  Last question. Was this creature eating trees?”

“Huh?  Trees?  No, she seen him in front of the barn, there wasn’t any trees.”

“Perfect!  Just as I suspected.  He wasn’t eating trees, which proves that he was looking for trees to eat.”  I marched over to him and laid a paw upon his shoulder.  “We’ve blown this case wide open, and I’ll see that you get a little badge for this.”

“A what?”

“A badge.  We’ll make you an Honorary Agent of the Security Division.”

“Well, hoop-tee-doo.”  He patted his chest and let out another little chicken-burp.  “I’d rather have a teaspoon of baking soda.  That squash bug is burning me up.”

I left him there, boiling in his own gastric juices and muttering about squash bugs.  What a birdbrain.  He had almost bored me into a coma, but I had managed to wring some very important information out of him.  

Let me go over it again, just to make sure you’re up to speed.  I now had a second eyewitness account, claiming that ranch headquarters had been penetrated by some shadowy, dreaded, mysterious creature.  In other words, I had to face the possibility that there might have been a speck of truth in Pete’s pack-of-lies story.  

That was good news and bad news.  First, the case was really coming together, but second, I would have to go back to the yard and do business with the cat, and the very thought of it made me ill.  You already know my Position on Cats, so I won’t repeat that I don’t like Sally May’s rotten little cat and absolutely hate doing business with him.  But it had to be done..."


Hope you enjoyed this snippet from "The Case of the Three-Toed Tree Sloth," and be sure to check back again soon for more updates and contests!!! 


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