Wildcat Play: A Mystery

Wildcat Play: A Mystery - Helen Knode I loved the opening of this book. We meet Ann Whitehead, former Hollywood movie critic now living with friends near Bakersfield, when she's on her first shift as the only job she can find in town, working graveyard at the Kwik Gas, where she is entertaining herself by imitating Norma Desmond, "I've got oil in Bakersfield, pumping, pumping, pumping," when a would-be thief pulls on a gun on her. The final straw, she snaps and rather dangerously subdues the thief until two serendipitously passing cops an apprehend him. How could you not like her? The trouble comes later in the book. Ann becomes a lease hand on a wildcat play -- her friend is drilling for gas that they think is there, but they can't be sure. If they do hit it, they can make millions. Rival companies are keeping a close eye, happy to let someone else take the risk, ready to swoop in at a moment's notice. When a man is killed on the lease, it's ruled an accident, but Ann has her own suspicions. The trouble I had was the middle of the book. Perhaps it's telling of my prejudices, but I didn't really care whether this already-rich California oil man was going to become even richer. The characters never quite leapt off the page enough for me to fall in love with them. Even Ann, after her fantastic introduction, kind of faded into the pages. I'm interested to try Knode's first book with Ann Whitehead, which takes place in Hollywood. Perhaps I can identify with movie stars more than oil men?