Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Devil's Pocket - Black Gold!

Devil’s Pocket
By Fred B. McKinley
ISBN 1-4241-7751-0
262 Pages

In an exciting historical adventure, Devil’s Pocket, Fred B. McKinley brings us sex and secrets during the times when black gold was the lure for men striving to make their fame and fortune. More, he gives us three family stories that twine and intertwine so fully that murder had to result--secrets always come out! McKinley uses his knowledge and research for his earlier book, Black Gold to Bluegrass, a nonfiction account of the second Spindletop oil boom that occurred in 1925 in Beaumont, Texas. With this background, he has created a thrilling first novel that pulls readers into the time and feelings of those who lived and searched for the rich oil lands in early America.

The main thrust of the book follows the life of Morgan, a young ambitious man who moved quickly and easily from one job to another as he sought to secure his financial future. While ambitious, he was also a man who loved and respected his family, working diligently to provide support and a home for his mother and sister.

Rachael fell in love with Morgan upon first sight. She was the daughter of a rich man and the granddaughter of an even richer man! Morgan had come to Rachael’s father to seek financial support in one of his ventures. Thoughts of Rachael or any other woman were far from his plans, as he became friends with her father. Many years went by as Rachael waited and longed for Morgan to notice and come to love her.

A simple love story? Not!

While waiting for Morgan, Rachael foolishly flirts with the wrong man, and because he doesn’t listen to her when she tells him to “stop,” she later finds herself pregnant. Rachael wants both to keep her child and to not have to admit that she is hers. Her lies later leave her daughter in the same situation and with the same man--her father!

As Morgan is busily making an honorable name for himself and working continuously to move forward toward his goals, oil is struck at Spindletop and he gets a touch of the “fever” that many men followed and for which many men failed. Morgan had his sights set on leasing land that he felt would be rich with oil. The only problem was that Rachael’s grandfather owned it! Morgan went to his friend, Rachael’s father, hoping to work through him to gain support to lease his father-in-law’s land, but they had been enemies since the birth of Rachael since his daughter had died giving birth. However, there was one thing that the two men had in common--a love for Rachael so strong that they could put aside their estrangement and secretly work toward making Rachael happy; i.e., married to Morgan!

Devil’s Pocket was the bait...

Oil was struck there—richer even than Spindletop! But at what cost? For in the end, Morgan and his sister were dead and so was Rachael, her father, and her grandfather.

Susannah Fletcher, a granddaughter, was one of the few left. She wore a tarnished cross from a grandmother she had never known. And she was given her grandmother’s diary to haunt her until she found the true story of what had happened to the family members, now all gone.

The early 1900’s were hard times. Women were often left to carry the burden of children from lost loves. Men left to try to find the fortunes that they knew they were due. Some found them; most did not. Devil’s Pocket presents the drama behind those lustful times. McKinley may have written the fiction; but readers will easily and quickly believe that all of the events could easily have been real. He has created characters you will hate immediately. Some are crafty and selfish and want their own way. Others love and work hard to provide for their families. They were killed due to greed, love, pride, but most of all, fear.

Readers interested in historical fiction will find this a well-written, well-researched story of the time when black gold fever touched our lands. Devil’s Pocket, hopefully, will not be the last story about this time period. This reader is already looking for a McKinley sequel!

G. A. Bixler
IP Book Reviewer

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