BLACK GOLD by Fred Bean

BLACK GOLD

By
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Although a bit too enamored of the traditions and myths surrounding the Texas Rangers, Bean (Lorena, not reviewed, etc.) does a commendable job in this action-filled adventure set in the East Texas oil fields in the 1930s. The story opens with the murder of hapless wildcatter Bill Dodd on the eve of his registration of a mineral-rights oil lease. Dodd's murder is simply one more violent act in the virtually lawless environs of the east Texas fields, and local authorities ignore it. Texas Ranger Lee Garrett is told to quietly investigate the killing, in response to Dodd's widow's complaint that he was killed by people who wanted to steal the lease. Almost immediately, Garrett discovers that there's more to the case than a simple act of murder and robbery. Tracing Dodd's associations through a prostitute, Molly Brown, Garrett begins to connect the nefarious dealings around the drilling rigs to organized crime in New York. In the meantime, another ranger, Roy Woods, is working with Treasury agents to shut down bootlegging operations in the nearby piney woods. Soon the two rangers are brought together. They tie corrupt officials to Eastern gangsters and discover that the real power behind the crime wave may be none other than Texas oil tycoon H.L. Hunt. Garrett's investigation is complicated by his growing love for the somewhat mysterious Molly. Tension increases as debates between Garrett and Woods over how lawmen should conduct themselves divide the two Rangers and seem to forecast future changes in policies and procedures long held sacred by the rough and ready Rangers. Though burdened by clichâ, a plodding plot, and a tendency toward the sentimental, the novel holds the reader's interest, thanks to Bean's deft hand at character development and his knowledge of the period. The climactic action scenes are well constructed, and the dialogue, though often repetitive, is natural and true to the time and place.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Forge/Tor