Oil, blood & romance don't mix, but they make an explosive compound in this classic Kelland mystery-thriller filled with eccentric characters, pixelated dialogue and nonstop plot developments!
"The always dependable Clarence Budington Kelland sends his hero, Archie Butts, a very tough young engineer, into the Canadian oilfields near Alberta in search of the source of violent skullduggery. As usual there is a nice blend of humor, excitement and romance, with a cast of characters assortedly charming and villainous, and a credible solution to a tantalizing plot. Recommended reading." —Hartford Courant
Archy Butts was an oilfield troubleshooter, sent to the Shining Brook field to find out why equipment kept failing—and why the workers believed the site was cursed. Once there in the deep woods, he discovered there was something sinister going on—but the cause was sabotage, not sorcery. That led to two questions: who was behind the skullduggery and why?
His first suspect was "Boots" Quinto. At their initial meeting she dressed and talked like a member of the Park Avenue elite and gave him a false name. The second time, she was disguised as a country lad of sixteen with a muddy face and a backwoods accent. The third time she was wearing jeans and a man's shirt and riding horseback as if born to the saddle—and he noticed her Bryn Mawr accent. Then he learned four things: 1) she had a reputation in New York as the mistress of one of the world's wealthiest men; 2) she was wanted for questioning in the murder of said billionaire; 3) he was developing very inconvenient feelings for her, and 4) she couldn't stop laughing at his confusion.
Another potential mastermind behind the Shining Brook oilfield's troubles was Leon Moffitt, the saturnine, intelligent and lethal boss of the oil company's fleet of tankers. The first time Butts ever met Moffit the latter introduced himself with threats—and the meeting went rapidly downhill from there. It didn't help that every time Moffitt's "bodyguard", Bones Leary, showed up he begged to be allowed to kill Butts.
Then there was Nadine Clark, usually seen on the arms of men of great wealth, an ultrasophisticated socialite with ultraexpensive tastes. But she told Archy disturbingly, "any woman, no matter how bad she may be, can throw her bonnet over the woodshed for some man … a bad woman may go crazy over a good man." What disturbed Archy is that she seemed genuinely sincere. What was Nadine Clark doing at the remote Shining Brook oilfield?
Could it have been Fisherman John? A giant of a man, John was named not for his piscatorial feats but because he fancied himself a fisher of souls. Archy knew the Fisherman was sincere in his beliefs—but he also showed up frequently where criminals had just reaped millions...and just before they lost them. Was he also fishing for ill-gotten loot and, if so, what kind of loot might it be?
His world already lousy with suspects, Archy still couldn't dismiss his own boss, William Makepeace Hawks. Hawks was engaged in a proxy fight for control of the oilfield. True, he had sent Butts to investigate Shining Brook, but Hawks was known to be a sly manipulator and could have manufactured Butts' mission to throw suspicion off himself.
Last but not least: the Magins, a pair of country eccentrics. Mr. Magin was reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica through and was just finishing up SARS to SORC. Mrs. Magin was a gruff old woman with what seemed a heart of gold, but she knew which end of a gun was the barrel and what to load it with. Why had these travelers decided to start a store so far from any town?
Archy couldn’t make head or tales of his suspects. Or the motive for the attempts to prevent the successful drilling of the Shining Brook field.
Then the first murder occurred. A man without any identification and who no one local claimed to have seen before was found murdered—in Archy Butts' car. Suddenly, Archy was the chief suspect in the crimes he had been hired to solve!
"Lots of adventure, menace, action, and romance. A real thriller." —Los Angeles Times