Johnny Bratton was a ""Crooked hole man,"" a Directional Engineer who could slant a pipeline across the Mississippi and hit a river rat on the other side. He could also drill a line to his neighbor's oil well. This is another of the author's sprawling adventure stories with characters as slick as the East Texas oilfields of its setting. Tom Kirk, newspaperman, relates Johnny's story as he builds a crooked fortune, keeps it for a while through some wild corporation chicanery and inevitably loses it all when the monoliths (National Oil, etc.) decide to tame the wildcatters. Finally Tom and Johnny team up in a last desperate attempt to sink a new well. Smoke, smell and sweat as well as mighty millionaire Texans at play keep the ball rolling but with the exception of short tough Johnny, there's no character of any stature. And The Iron Orchard was hardly a bumper crop seller.