The Boom Town Saga: Book 3

Book Review by Rox Burkey

Author Caleb Pirtle III is a master at drawing readers into his stories. His characters are well developed with great interactions. Book three of this series takes place in an oil town in East Texas that really has no law. The backdrop of the Great Depression works for this historical fiction. The descriptions of people, places, and things are so vivid you can touch them.

Two characters resonated with me. Eudora who struck it big in oil and runs the town newspaper. The other is the child she rescues from the train and takes under her wing, Ollie Porter. These two create a bond nearly immediately that, as a reader, I prayed would last.

Ollie is looking for his father because his mother died. He is not even a teen yet but traveling from train to train stop searching in the oil fields on his own. Eudora has a complicated life with a history, like most of us. Helping a child becomes her mission, as much as publishing the facts in the town paper.

A woman, Louise Fontaine, is killed in the middle of the night. Much of the story centers around why was she killed and who would have done it. The description below made the murder of this young woman even more tragic.

She was lying on her back, staring up with open eyes at the rain showering down from a dark sky as gray as the pistol in Johnny B.’s hand. Her face could have been molded from wax, and all color had been washed from her eyes. They had turned as while as fresh buttermilk. She had a purple bruise just below her left eye, and the bullet hole above the top button of her silky red dancing dress was black and ugly, caked with mud and coal dust spilling from the trains rolling into Ashland. Any traces of blood had soaked with the rain into the bare ground beneath her. But even after lying in the rain all night, her blonde hair was perfectly combed, not a hair out of place.  

I recommend this story for the historical richness as well as appreciation for hardship endurance of people in those times. It would make interesting reading in high school, but ideal for a young to old adult who love solving mysteries. You’ll love the surprise ending that solves the mystery.

About the Author 

Caleb Pirtle III lives in the present but prefers the past. He is the author of more than 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 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 in the midst of greed, jealousy and murder.

Pirtle is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and became the first student at the university 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, live in the rolling, timbered hills of East Texas. She is the author of two cozy mysteries. Find and follow Caleb and Linda on your SM of choice.

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