Some men are destined for danger
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.
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Average rating from 21 members
Organized crime, Prohibition, and oil boom meet Texas Ranger, and guess who wins. Excellent story with a strong protagonist bring East Texas to life in a thrilling, action-packed adventure
This is the first book I have read by this author and after reading the author's notes, apparently, Texas Ranger Tom Bell has other books that he is featured in and you could say this is like a prequel to those books.
In this book, Tom is chasing a murderer from the valley and ends up in East Texas. I don't think I realized it when I picked up the book, but since I lived for some time in Longview, I am familiar with the area even though it would have looked much different in the 1930s. I was fascinated to learn that Liberty City was previously called Hog Eye until the oil boom. I had to chuckle at the name of the town, but there are small towns all across this country with unique names.
Set during the oil boom, this book showcases human nature and that they weren't that much different than people today by scheming and deceiving landowners, killing, prejudice for those even a little different from them, gangsters and prohibition. This book gets into the nitty-gritty of life in a small shanty town and had me spellbound imaging life nearly 90 years ago. Life was not easy because there was also the depression which made some people greedy that much more as we saw from various characters.
I really like Tom Bell and how seriously he took his position as a Texas Ranger. It was not an easy job for him or anyone else, but they made it work somehow. I thought the details painted a picture for us to imagine what life was like in this area at that time. The towns exploded with oil derrick workers and I can imagine law enforcement was stretched thin trying to keep everything peaceful. It was not an easy task for anyone. Those that were of ill repute were going to wreak havoc no matter what and those scenes had my heart pounding wondering how things were going to shake out for Tom.
This is a fascinating book and one I enjoyed immensely. We give it 5 paws up.
The Texas Job by Reavis Z. Wortham
Set during the depression, this book has the feel of a dime novel or perhaps pulp fiction. It feels “of the time” and the time of the story is early 1930’s. Set in a booming oil town during the heyday of a new era filled with men wishing to rake in the money…oil towns seemed to have the same feel as old gold towns.
Tom Bell, Texas Ranger, is on horseback chasing a criminal when he meets eleven-year-old Booker Johnston who takes him to a female corpse. Tom and Booker become friends of sorts over the course of the book as Tom realizes that something isn’t quite right in Pine Top. An era with horses and automobiles both on the roads, good people being pushed aside by those ruthless enough to take what they want, bigotry and racial discrimination rampant, social divides prevalent, prohibition and speakeasies the norm, mafia types on the move, corrupt cops getting away with…a lot, and murder aplenty – well, this story is action-packed, filled with colorful characters, dark, and gritty.
The Texas Rangers are doing their job but it isn’t always easy. Being a good person in Pine Top might not see you alive till the end of the book…and being a bad person might have the same ending for some of the book’s characters, too.
This is a novel that will appeal to those who enjoy vintage stories with bigger than life characters, a bit of feel-good here and there, good vs evil, and a bit different flavor ovreall. It was not exactly what I thought it would be but was great for what it was meant to be…or what I think it was meant to be. I do believe I would read another book by Wortham and am glad I read this new-to-me author’s work.
Thank you to NetGalley and Poison Pen Press for the ARC – this is my honest review.
A sweeping tale of corruption, greed, racism and madness set in a East Texas boomtown during the Depression, the story of an urban anthill teeming with lots of unscrupulous schemers, underhanded cheaters, bold liars and shameless drunks performing their evil deeds within a malevolent spiderweb awashed with towering oil derricks and the deafening din and nefarious fumes they never cease to produce. The main character in this magnificent novel is a winsome and rather fearless Texas Ranger on a hunt for a depraved killer and his adventures & misadventures as he painstakingly tries to destroy the ruthless network of criminal shenanigans that ensnares that urban behemoth.
The Texas job was my first encounter with the brilliant prose of Reavis Wortham. Just like Joe R. Lansdale, he is a fantastic wordsmith and he knows how to bring East Texas vividly to life. But luckily for us, he is also very talented when it comes to choreographing all the violence on paper. Just like Lansdale he knows how to hook your attention from the beginning and he never gives you any reprieve. Last but not least all the amazing characters and harsh settings that inhabit his gorgeous storytelling endows it with a vivid, almost cinematic quality. A fabulous discovery that definitely deserves to be enjoyed without any moderation whatsoever! Now I will start looking for other titles from this terrific writer!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Poisoned Pen for this incredible ARC!