Publisher: CamCat Books
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Page count: 384 pages
In this gamble, more than a few poker chips are at stake.
When an Army Air Force Major vanishes from his Top Secret job at the Fort Worth airbase in the summer of 1947, down-on-his-luck former Ranger Jefferson Sharp is hired to find him, because the Major owes a sizable gambling debt to a local mobster. The search takes Sharp from the hideaway poker rooms of Fort Worth’s Thunder Road, to the barren ranch lands of New Mexico, to secret facilities under construction in the Nevada desert.
Lethal operatives and an opaque military bureaucracy stand in his way, but when he finds an otherworldly clue and learns President Truman is creating a new Central Intelligence Agency and splitting the Air Force from the Army, Sharp begins to connect dots. And those dots draw a straight line to a conspiracy aiming to cover up a secret that is out of this world⎯literally so.
PRAISE FOR THUNDER ROAD
Clueless Gent’s Rating for Thunder Road
Before reading Thunder Road, a reader must prepare for full immersion in 1940s America. I haven’t felt this immersed in a novel since reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63!
This story, initially set in post-World War II Texas, begins like a Western, with a cowboy out on the range. However, in one of the quickest segues I’ve ever read, the author brilliantly transitions to a classic gumshoe-ish novel! The protagonist, Jefferson Sharp, a World War II veteran and former detective, finds himself—on the same day—fired from a job he didn’t really like anyway, as well as divorce-bound from his wife. He decides to try out being a private eye. His pre-war connections, including guys with mob affiliations, get him a case to find a missing Army Air Force Major. What follows is a story that I was sad to see come to an end.
I mentioned being immersed in this story. My words cannot do that experience justice. The dialogue is top notch, although he only used the word, “dame,” once. I’m sure Humphrey Bogart would be disappointed. Something else that added substantially to the immersion was the smoking. Oh. My. God. Everybody smoked! Further, they all smoked unfiltered cigarettes. Well, that’s not exactly true: some characters smoked cigars. I read the Kindle version of the book, but I would not be one bit surprised if the pages of the paperback were yellowed from all the cigarette and cigar smoke! However, that’s really the way it was. It was what it was. Authenticity matters.
I only loosely consider this to be historical fiction because it includes some celebrities and events that actually existed. The celebs included Howard Hughes, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, and gangster Bugsy Siegel. Among the events are the birth of Las Vegas, the establishment of the CIA, as well as the creation of the Air Force from the Army Air Corps and the related creation of Area 51 in Nevada.
Sharp lit what he hoped wasn’t his last cigarette. “So, of the choices you’ve laid out, I’d rather not get killed. What now?”
The author managed to tuck in some hidden humor. Among my favorites, near the end of the story one character tells Jeff Sharp that the Nevada state law was recently changed to allow for quickie marriages and divorces. Jeff then says, “Who’s going to elope to the middle of nowhere and get married?” I know people who would gladly—or reluctantly—raise their hands.
I think author Colin Holmes has an amazing talent for writing noir stories. If he writes another one, I will surely read it. Even if he doesn’t want to write a series, I encourage him to revisit this period in future novels.
This book is also available as an audiobook. If the video Book Trailer is any indication of how good the narration would be, it’s going to be next level!
This is one of those very few books where I read very slowly and even put off reading the ending because I didn’t want the story to end. That’s probably about the highest praise I can give any book. My comment to author Colin Holmes, “Please, sir. I want some more!”
Each receives an autographed hardcover copy of THUNDER ROAD.
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