In the East Texas town of Ashland, the Great Depression means times are hard. With money and jobs scarce, anyone with any sense is leaving town. For red-head Eudora Durant, something needs to change and when her violent and whoring husband disappears, townsfolk soon begin making assumptions. But then a stranger comes to town with a tin-box machine he claims can find oil, Eudora sees him weaving a spell that throws up all sorts of possibilities for the small community. Though all her senses proclaim him to be nothing more than a flim-flam con man, there’s something about the stranger in the straw boater that keeps her sitting on the fence. When he persuades her to let him dig an oil well on her land, she gets caught up in a tangle of lies and half-truths.
Back Side of a Blue Moon is the first in the Boom Town Saga series, and the first I’ve read by Caleb Pirtle. My overall impression puts the book in what I’d call the ‘slow burner’ category. By that, I mean it starts off at a gentle pace, introducing a cast of disparate characters and sketching out their relationships, before gradually building a story around them, a story that kept me glued to every page. The author’s writing style is captivating – he has a way with words that is by turns witty, charming and totally original and while I could never quite work out how things would end, I was happy to see that most of the characters get their just desserts.
Caleb Pirtle’s gift is in the creation of characters who step right off the page, grabbing the reader and clinging on until the bitter end. A thoroughly enjoyable book that left me with a rather nice warm feeling inside.