"The Ploughman" tells the story of Tenbrook and Pillars, two friends who come into conflict over Pillars's plans to develop a thousand acre virgin prairie that was once owned by Tenbrook's family.
Threatened by environmentalists who want to stop development, Pillars plows up the prairie. His financial involvement with a local criminal leads to violent consequences and a chance at redemption. Themes of adultery, religion and politics pitting Red State Kansas values against those of the local academic community are part of the story.
“A Memorandum for Jesse James” isn’t about Jesse James, although his skull plays a minor role in the story…
Ted James is returning from another fruitless week of trying to sell pharmaceuticals in small town Kansas when he sees “an apparition every lonely truck driver dreams of seeing – a beautiful girl thumbing for a ride.” Not the typical-looking runaway (she’s wearing hospital greens) but she has a harried look. James picks her up.
Robin gives him a fuzzy, inconsistent story: Dr. Prince, a big shot doctor who runs the clinic where she works, has been harassing her and she had to make an escape. Robin and Ted hit it off. He offers her a place to stay in Kansas City and is surprised when she accepts. At the apartment, she picks up a skull with a bullet hole. It once belonged to Jesse James. It turns out that Ted is the great-great grandson of the notorious outlaw. His famous relative haunts Ted as an inspiration and a rebuke for the tame life he’s leading.
Ted and Robin have a chaste but romantic evening, dining on Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. Robin promises to start taking “the pill” the next day. When Ted wakes up, she’s gone. He finds an apologetic note from Robin along with a computer flash drive. He goes to the office where a pink slip is waiting for him. When he returns, his apartment has been trashed.
Below are synopses and excerpts from George H. Gurley's two unpublished novels
A knock on his door announces Mallory Kincaid, who identifies himself as a detective, responding to a break-in call. Kincaid discovers a surveillance camera sequestered in a ceiling light. He questions Ted about likely suspects for the vandalism and motives. Ted has no answers. After Kincaid leaves, two more visitors arrive. They’re on Robin’s trail with orders to bring her back to the doctor. They give Ted 24 hours to deliver her. Kincaid returns. He reveals that he and Robin are colleagues working for a shadowy government entity that’s investigating Dr. Prince and a U.S. Senator he’s in cahoots with. They play the flash drive which shows material Robin has gathered to incriminate the doctor.
Inspired by the example of Jesse James, Ted decides to join Robin and Kincaid in an adventure. They have a violent confrontation with the two agents of Dr. Prince. Ted’s mistrust of Robin grows as she reveals a ruthless aptitude for combat. But he’s infatuated. He doesn’t care.
Robin, Kincaid and Ted meet up with a group of rogue ex-cops gathered by Curt Weatherby, a private security entrepreneur who’s pursuing a vendetta against Dr. Prince. After a skirmish with a contingent of Prince’s bodyguards, they convene at Carnival, Kansas, a ghost town that Weatherby owns and has restored, converting it into a munitions factory and a kind of fortress.
An invitation arrives from Dr. Prince. Robin, Ted and Kincaid attend a party at Prince’s clinic. Ted meets Dr. Prince, who’s tormented by sexual insecurities and jealousy and convinced that Ted is a dangerous rival. He threatens Ted with fatal consequences if he persists with Robin.
The story ends in betrayal and bloodshed with a revelation of the truth about Robin and Kincaid and Ted earning his Jesse James stripes.