320 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 in
November 11, 2013
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0151004293
ISBN - 13: 9780151004294
About the Book
A nomad writer is roughing it on a wildcat drilling operation in a meth-ridden former boom town in California. She suspects foul play after a co-worker is killed, but will she be the next victim?
Read from the Book
1I STOOD AT the window of the Kwik Gas and suddenly laughed out loud. The only people on the streets of Wilson at two A.M. were drunks leaving the bar, meth addicts, and cops. I watched a patrol car glide into the curb across the way. A policeman got out to check on a guy who’d collapsed in front of the newspaper office. What on earth was I doing here? I’d left L.A. to come live with an old family friend in Wilson, an oil town in the San Joaquin Valley over the mountains to the north. But for weeks I couldn’t find a job. I’d discovered that being an ex-journalist and –movie critic qualified me for nothing. In fact, it made people suspicious. It made them even more suspicious that I’d settle for any crumb-bum gig when my only reference was Joe Balch, Wilson’s leading citizen and largest local employer. Then yesterday the manager at the Kwik Gas hired me for nights—and tonight was my first shift on. I watched a battered sedan pull up and park outside. There was a kid asleep in the car seat in back. The woman driving wore a parka over her nightgown. She came in to buy five dollars’ worth of gas and a pack of cigarettes. Not bothering anymore with hello or a smile, I took her money and switched on the pump she asked for. I’d been making some version of that sale for hours—gas and cigarettes, beer and/or candy. Occasionally a quart of motor oil or milk. People who used the Kwik Gas, I’d learned, did not smile or want to chat, especially after midnight. The woman left and
From the Publisher
Hipster movie critic Ann Whitehead pushed a Hollywood murder case to a bloody climax and almost died herself. Changed forever-less stupid and more fun-she has moved on to a place she knows well: the San Joaquin Valley, where her grandfather's closest friend, Joe Balch, owns the oil company that keeps one town alive.
Balch gets Ann a job with the Oklahoma contractor drilling his wildcat well. It's hard work, but Ann loves both it and her crusty old boss, Emmet. Then a guy on her crew is killed by a falling hammer. Sheriffs rule it an accident but Ann's LAPD squeeze, Detective Doug Lockwood, says it's murder. Ann can't resist the challenge of chasing a killer-and then the killer starts chasing her . . .
From a writer whose first novel was praised as 'highly literate, exceptionally action-packed and occasionally harrowing' ( Chicago Tribune ), this is a wild ride full of bad behavior and laughs, oil-field characters, and small-town atmosphere, starring a heroine who never does anything halfway.
About the Author
Helen Knode put her experiences as a staff writer and film critic for the L.A. Weekly into her first novel, The Ticket Out . She was born in Calgary, Alberta, heart of the Canadian oil business, and Knodes have worked in oil since the nineteenth century, a history that inspired Wildcat Play . She lives in Austin, Texas.
"This book is a blast -- a gutsy, funny heroine and a story that's a pulse-pounding thrill ride."-Janet Evanovich "I fell in love with the people, the place and most of all the words."-Michael Connelly "Helen Knode's Wildcat Play is one of the freshest mysteries I've read in a long time, and sleuth Ann Whitehead is an original. A fine writer, Knode brings the edgy, colorful, and dangerous world of oil and gas drilling to life for her readers. She also manages to salt in fascinating tidbits of oilfield history without slowing down the action. Get ready to feel as if you've stepped out onto the rig, where you'll meet a set of unforgettable characters facing hard work, long odds, and high risk."-Jan Burke, Edgar-winning author of Bones and Disturbance. “Drawing on her family's history in oil exploration, Helen Knode has created a riveting mystery that blends elements of Upton Sinclair and There Will Be Blood with a hard-edged heroine who isn't afraid to get grease under her fingernails. Best of all, WILDCAT PLAY explores the literary terra incognita of East-Central California, a land of transplanted Okie roughnecks, blue-collar millionaires, wildcat rigs and the scheming, double-crossing and murder that seethes beneath the placid surface.” -Denise Hamilton, author of Damage Control and the Eve Diamond mystery series Knode’s ponderous second mystery featuring L.A. movie critic Ann Whitehead (after 2003’s The Ticket Out) takes Ann to oil country. Ann’s family’s business w