White Gold by Micheal E. Jimerson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
With a rural East Texas setting and intriguing and intricate plot, White Gold hooked me with its hot action from the very first page.
E.J. Kane, a disgraced former Texas Ranger, works as the head of corporate security for Devekon Energy and gets the call the investigate when a body is found at one of the company’s gas well sites. By all appearances it was a horrific accident; the deceased was killed when lightning struck a tank and the equipment he was using. But the man, a salt-water extraction truck operator, had no business being at the location, and the circumstances surrounding his death raise a lot of questions. E.J. becomes suspicious that something else is going on and the man has been murdered.
Meanwhile, E.J.’s got his hands full dealing with his ex-wife, Rebecca, and daughter, Sharla. His marriage had broken up after their son had been killed in Afghanistan; Rebecca blamed E.J. for Konnor’s patriotic desire to serve his country and his subsequent death. Sharla, a teenager at the time, had taken her brother’s death and her parents’ divorce hard. During the ensuing years, she’d turned to drugs and was now an addict desperately trying to make her next fix and pay off her supplier. But when she disappears from school with her boyfriend and no one knows where she is or what is going on, both her parents are out of their wits with fear. With little to go on, E.J. gets his former partner with the Texas Rangers to help him find his girl.
White Gold hooked me from the very start, and I didn't want to put it down until the last page. First, the main character, E.J. Kane, seems like a regular guy dealing with extraordinary circumstances and handles himself well. His surrounding characters are an interesting and distinctive lot, and there are obviously backstories and prior histories between them and E.J. Some of these backstories are broadly hinted at but left unexplained. But for the most part, readers will get the gist of their relationships. However, I felt more could have been done to flesh out these details and characters.
E.J. is a former Texas Ranger, always an excellent choice in my mind, but he has been forced to retire under an investigative cloud, the circumstances of which are never fully explained. The reader knows that other rangers lost their lives, and E.J. was blamed. Although exonerated, local law enforcement still holds the incident against him. However, his former trainee, Cooper, and a close FBI colleague have his back. But that's not his only burden, his ex-wife blames him for their son's death in Afghanistan, and his college-age daughter is at a crisis point in her use of some very heavy drugs. E.J. is suffering and is very vulnerable, leaving him open to some of what happens in the book.
The plot dealing with oil production was fresh and intriguing. Who knew there could be that much interest in what could be seen as a waste product? Mixed with his personal problems, the involvement of a rural conservative political organization, and his friend and employer's legal struggle, the story has twists and turns upon twists and turns! I could have kept turning pages all day to find out where things were going if life had allowed it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the east Texas/Louisiana settings, ones not often used; I perked up each time E.J. hopped on Interstate 20. And except for mentions of Lufkin, Houston, and Shreveport, the action is operating in the middle of rural east nowhere. Being from the north-central Texas area myself, I love seeing this area highlighted.
With its dual focus on E.J.'s investigation and his ex-wife's courtroom drama, I recommend WHITE GOLD to readers who have enjoyed the Andy Carpenter series by David Rosenfelt. With its main character of "a certain age" and temperament and his old-school ways, as well as the rural east Texas setting, WHITE GOLD may please fans of Reavis Z. Wortham's Red River series. I hope this is the author's first book in a planned series; I will be first in line for more.
A final note: The book's text appearance is fabulous. The font used and page layout are attractive and easy to read. It just looks high quality.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.