***** A Hold Your Breath Whodunit —- Review by Rox Burkey
Caleb Pirtle III deftly grabs the reader on page one and immerses them into a place filled with sights, sounds, smells, and sensational storytelling. His exacting style delivers a succinct framework for how Crystalline Flats relates to Magnolia Bluff. Texas succumbs to a severe heat wave and the subsequent drought, resulting in the unexpected reemergence of a town as Burnet Reservoir shoreline recedes—the dead demanding justice after years of a watery coverup.
Graham Huston, editor of the town’s newspaper, believes the tale of a dead man walking around town shared by Fergus. Fergus isn’t the only citizen to spot the mossbacked man. Today’s news cites a man getting shot. Yesterday’s news wants the headlines. The characters, even the dead, come alive as Graham hunts for answers and clues to the present and past murders. As Graham sorts out the clues, another murder occurs. His investigation uncovers one too many truths and places him in the crosshairs.
Mr. Pirtle is a world-class storyteller who weaves a small-town mystery with non-stop action and suspense at every page-turn. His style ferrets’ details with the reporter gaining more ground on finding the killer than the sheriff. Readers enjoy the signature poetic prose that takes them along to discover the hidden secrets that someone doesn’t want to be discovered, no matter what. Death in the Absence of Rain is a highly engaging tale of Magnolia Bluff, its people, and its murders no one should miss. Read this one, but don’t forget the other mysteries in the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles.
About the Author
Caleb Pirtle III lived in the present but preferred the past. He is the author of over eighty books, including four noir thrillers in the Ambrose Lincoln series: Secrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies, Night Side of Dark, and Place of Skulls. Secrets and Conspiracy are also audiobooks on audible.com. All of the novels are set against the haunting backdrop of World War II. His Lonely Night to Die features three noir thrillers in one book, following the exploits of the Quiet Assassin, a rogue agent who has fled the CIA. He takes the missions no one else wants. He is expendable, and he knows it.
His novels Eulogy in Black and White, Book 2, and Death in the Absence of Rain, Book 15, are part of the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles, developed by twelve authors all writing about strange, sinister, and frightening happenings in a small Texas Hill Country town. Pirtle’s latest book is a nonfiction historical account of a West Texas boomtown: Borger: Last Dance at Sundown.
His award-winning Boom Town Saga includes Back Side of a Blue Moon, the story of a con man who comes to a dying East Texas town during the Great Depression, promises to drill for oil, and falls in love with a beautiful woman who just may have killed her husband. In Bad Side of a Wicked Moon, the lawless have come to the oil patch, and justice has left town.
Pirtle also wrote Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever, the story of a high school quarterback whose life spins into turmoil during his entanglements with illegal college recruiting, and Last Deadly Lie is the chilling story of the gossip and scandal that threatens to break a church apart amid greed, jealousy, and murder.
Pirtle is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and became the first student to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. Several of his books and his magazine writing have received national and regional awards.
Pirtle has written two teleplays: Gambler V: Playing for Keeps, a mini-series for CBS television starring Kenny Rogers, Loni Anderson, Dixie Carter, and Mariska Hargitay, and The Texas Rangers, a TV movie for John Milius and TNT television. He wrote two novels for Berkeley based on the Gambler series: Dead Man’s Hand and Jokers Are Wild. He wrote the screenplay for one motion picture, Hot Wire, starring George Kennedy, Strother Martin, and John Terry.
Pirtle’s narrative nonfiction, Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk is a true-life book about the fights and feuds during the founding of the controversial Giddings oilfield and From the Dark Side of the Rainbow, the story of a woman’s escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II. His coffee-table quality book, XIT: The American Cowboy, became the publishing industry’s third bestselling art book of all time.
Pirtle was a newspaper reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and served ten years as the travel editor for Southern Living Magazine. He was editorial director for a Dallas custom publisher for more than twenty-five years.
He and his wife, Linda, promote books through their Website. She is the author of four cozy mysteries.