A debut mystery that revolves around a cryptic letter and key that a famous bootlegger from Oklahoma left for his son.
Joe Meadows and Mike Allen have been friends since childhood. Now they’re middle-aged and struggling with their own issues—Joe’s wife is contemplating divorce, and Mike’s hardware business is months away from bankruptcy. Their lives change forever when Mike receives a package from a Dallas lawyer that includes what appears to be a safe-deposit box key and a letter from his deceased father that hints at a hidden cache of money. As their respective personal lives are unraveling, the two friends decide to investigate these clues further. Their search for answers regarding Mike’s mysterious father (who was rumored to be the “biggest bootlegger in Oklahoma” back in the 1940s and ’50s) soon leads them to New Mexico. After several misadventures, the duo begin to piece together Mike’s father’s wild history, which includes a heart-rending story involving his lover, Sally Thompson. Although the mystery elements in this novel are certainly engaging enough to keep readers turning pages, it’s Clifton’s superb character development that makes this story a transformative journey of self-discovery. The cast of characters is so fully realized that even secondary players, such as Samantha, Mike’s manipulative wife, and Ray Pacheco, a Las Cruces sheriff, are memorable. In fact, Sally’s tragic tale steals the show. The noteworthy narrative also includes vivid backdrops, brisk pacing, and a meticulously researched, historically accurate account of the Prohibition era in Oklahoma and Texas.
A tale with an authentic, immersive setting inhabited by well-developed, endearing characters.