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.
In 1947, former soldier Jeff Sharp, the hero of Holmes's intriguing debut, loses his job as a special ranger for the Fort Worth and Western Stockmen's Association in Fort Worth, Tex. At a gambling house owned by mob-connected Doyle Denniker, Sharp runs into Jerry Cartwright, an Army major who saved his life during WWII. After Denniker offers Sharp a job investigating a real estate mogul, one thing leads to another, and he becomes a full-fledged PI. When Cartwright, who was in debt to Denniker, disappears, Denniker hires Sharp to locate Cartwright. Suddenly, Sharp finds "people were trying to kill him and nobody bothered to tell him why." Sharp's search takes him to Las Vegas, Nev., and Roswell, N.Mex., where mysterious lights appear in the sky. Along the way, he encounters such real-life notables as mob accountant Meyer Lansky, business magnate Howard Hughes, congressman Lyndon Johnson, and comedian Jack Benny. Clear, crisp prose makes the knotty plot easy to follow as it morphs from a western into a detective story with an overlay of conspiracy theories. The genre-shifting may put off some readers, though most will be curious to see what Holmes does next.