Texas Ranger Tom Bell is simply tracking a fugitive killer in 1931 when he rides into Kilgore, a hastily erected shanty town crawling with rough and desperate men—oil drillers who’ve come by the thousands in search of work. The sheriff of the boomtown is overwhelmed and offers no help, nor are any of the roughnecks inclined to assist the young Ranger in his search for the wanted man.
In fact, it soon becomes apparent that the lawman’s presence has irritated the wrong people, and when two failed attempts are made on his life, Bell knows he’s getting closer to finding out who is responsible for cheating and murdering local landowners to access the rich oil fields flowing beneath their farms. When they ambush him for a third time, they make the fatal mistake of killing someone close to him and leaving the Ranger alive.
Armed with his trademark 1911 Colt .45 and the Browning automatic he liberated from a gangster’s corpse, Tom Bell cuts a swath of devastation through the heart of East Texas in search of the consortium behind the lethal land-grab scheme.
Early 20th Century east Texas was a wide-open territory. Texas Ranger Tom Bell has a very dangerous job. The mob has infiltrated the area because of quick riches from the discovery of oil. A forest of oil rigs blight the once open range and forest lands. Where money flows, greed and corruption closely follow. One of the get-rich schemes was to marry the ladies who owned the land and then kill them to inherit the land and the wealth stream.
The mob has no compassion for people, their problems, or their needs. Take whatever you can and if someone dies in the process, oh well! Author Wortham weaves a very interesting tale of bravado and heroism against wanton killing and conniving. I found his tale engaging and entertaining. His writing style harkens back to western authors of old. The characters who became Texas Rangers were smart and cared for the people of east Texas.
The weapons and attack methodology were reminiscent of WW I war tactics. The mob sent in large groups of killers with the instructions to “take care of the problem.” Ranger Tom Bell is one of those “problems.” Six men are sent down from Hot Springs, Arkansas to accomplish the goal. Their problem was a lack of understanding the abilities of Tom Bell.
Segregation was rampant in Texas at that time. The African American youth were considered slightly less valuable than cattle. African American women were considered ignorant and were generally ignored. Therefore, Tom has a ready source of intelligence because the criminals gave them little consideration. The Black population, however, knew everything that was going on and appreciated being treated fairly.
Enjoy this tale from a gifted writer. Set aside time because you will not want to put the book down. 4.5 stars- CE Williams
We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions. Current on pre-order.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars
Genre: Small Town & Rural Fiction, Murder
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Print Length: 272 pages
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): The Texas Job [Amazon]
Barnes and Noble
The Author: As a boy, award-winning writer, Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for the fictional setting for The Rock Hole and The Red River Mystery Series. He was born in Paris, Texas, but lived in Dallas. “We grew up in the city and went to school there, but every Friday evening my parents put us in the car and made the 120-mile drive to Chicota, where we truly lived at my grandparents’ place in the country until Sunday evening, when we came back to the city. Our real home was that little scratch farm in Lamar County.”
[Amazon bio Truncated…]
Reavis also penned Doreen’s 24 HR Eat Gas Now Café. More than 2,500 newspaper and magazine articles bear the byline of this award-winning Texas writer. The Rock Hole was a finalist in the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award presented by the Independent Book Publishers Association, is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the Writers’ League of Texas, International Association of Crime Writers (North American Branch), and International Thriller Writers.
He lives with his wife, Shana, in northeast Texas.
(Reavis Z. Wortham retired in 2011 and now works harder than before as the author of the critically acclaimed Red River historical mystery series. Kirkus Reviews listed his first novel, The Rock Hole, as one of their Top 12 Mysteries of 2011. True West Magazine included Dark Places as one of 2015’s Top 12 Modern Westerns. The Providence Journal writes, “This year’s Unraveled is a hidden gem of a book that reads like Craig Johnson’s Longmire on steroids.” Wortham’s new high octane contemporary thriller from Kensington Publishing, Hawke’s Prey, featuring Texas Ranger Sonny Hawke was released in June, 2017. [Goodreads])
©2022 CE Williams – V Williams