My first book tour this year with Blackthorn book tours, Thunder Road is an intriguing detective noir set in 1947.
About the book
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.
Thunder Road is about Jefferson Sharp, who starts the novel protecting cattle from rustlers, but after a very bad day, becomes a reluctant private detective.
What I liked: The 1940s setting. I love movies from that era, and Holmes really captured the time period with the dialogue and descriptions. I could see it playing out like a movie in my head, and I loved that.
The inclusion of real life figures in a time of incredible change after the Second World War. I loved that no one had heard of Las Vegas, and all the other new things and changes in the book.
Aliens! Wow, despite the 1947 setting, that was completely unexpected.
What didn’t work for me: There is a detective story here, and a great conspiracy with lots of nods to the reader, but altogether I found it slightly underwhelming. Neither the plot nor the character arcs wrapped up in a way that I found intellectually or emotionally satisfying. It’s not that the ending is bad, but I found it anticlimactic. I enjoyed the journey and spending time with the characters, and then the book ended and we went our separate ways.
The aliens. There are so many nice touches about the Roswell incident in this book, but it’s one of many story threads that seem to be there because of the time period and a certain cool ‘what if…’ factor, rather than a central or driving force. I suppose their inclusion in this book led me to expect more typical science fiction developments, and I was disappointed when that didn’t happen, which ultimately led me to believe the book would be stronger without these guys, much as I loved the scenes they were in. It raised my expectations and failed to deliver.
Altogether, Thunder Road is a very enjoyable, pleasant trip back to the 1940s with a focus on what an exciting time for change it was for the post war US, even though a lot of that change wasn’t positive.
I award Thunder Road…
About the Author
Before the pandemic, I worked in a beige cubical as a mid-level marketing and advertising guy for an international electronics firm. A recovering advertising creative director, I spent far too long at ad agencies and freelancing as a hired gun in the war for capitalism.
As an adman, I wrote newspaper ads (remember those?), TV commercials, radio spots, trade journal articles and tweets. My ads have sold cowboy boots and cheeseburgers, 72-ounce steaks, and hazardous waste site clean-up services. And I’ve encountered fascinating characters at every turn.
Now, I write novels, short stories, and screenplays in an effort to stay out of the way and not drive my far too patient wife completely crazy. I’m an honors graduate of the UCLA Writers Program, a former board member of the DFW Writers Workshop, and serve on the steering committee of the DFW Writers Conference.
I was the original writer on the film Edge of the World which made the festival rounds in 2019 and I detail that story on my website at byColinHolmes dot com.
I’m a fan of baseball, barbeque, fine automobiles, and unpretentious scotch.