Good day, my bookish divas and divos. I’m currently wondering what in the world happened to Spring here in West Virginia. Temperatures fell into the mid-40s yesterday and there were actual snow flurries when I went out of town for a medical appointment. One of the good things about these cooler temps is that I don’t feel guilty curling up in my reading chair with my favorite blanket, a pot of tea, and a few good books. What can I say, I’m a book diva! And as a book diva, I enjoy learning as much as possible about the characters within the stories I’m reading, the settings, and especially why the author chose that time period, setting, etc. The more I learn about these things, the more pleasure I seem to derive from reading the story. As a result of this reading quirk, I’m pleased to welcome Colin Holmes, author of the historical noir, Thunder Road. Mr. Holmes will be introducing us to the main character of this book and I’m looking forward to meeting him. Thank you, Mr. Holmes, for joining us today. The blog is now all yours.
Meet Jefferson Sharp
by Colin Holmes
One of the things every novelist must know is the fictional background of our main characters. You have to know what makes them tick, to learn how they’ll react. So, here’s a little biography on the protagonist of Thunder Road as we meet the detective just west of Fort Worth in the Summer of 1947.
Jefferson Sharp was a child through the roaring ’20s and went through the Depression as a teenager. His dad held a job as a meat cutter at the giant Swift packing plant in Fort Worth, and his mother was a housewife. Sharp graduated from Paschal High School, where he played football and baseball with his childhood friend and neighbor Dave Latham. Dave’s little sister Veronica, younger by four years, was a frequent pest. Sharp was a “C” student not because he lacked the aptitude but because school bored him to death.
While job scarcity was real in the Depression, his father’s steady employment enabled Sharp to go as far with his true love—baseball—as he could. He played for a summer with the Brooklyn Dodgers’ AA farm team, the Fort Worth Cats, but he couldn’t hit a curveball and was told he didn’t have a future in the game.
With no real plan beyond baseball, he worked odd jobs. For a short time, he was a mechanic in his grandfather’s automobile garage. He worked as a pen rider, moving livestock through the enormous Fort Worth stockyards, but he found the romantic ideal of the cowboy was mostly dust, sweat, and manure. He made a friend of a Brand Inspector from the Stockman’s Association who encouraged him to apply to the police department as a first step to becoming a Stockman’s Ranger. He also introduced Sharp to the poker room at the 2222 Club and three years later, to Evelyn Lavelle at a party after the finals of the October 1940 Fort Worth Fat Stock Show Rodeo. They were married in June of 1941.
Police work appealed to Sharp’s curious nature. He was a diligent cop and a quick study, walking the Hell’s Half Acre beat with his partner William “Frenchy” Arquette. He learned how to deal with inquisitive newspaper reporters from old-hand reporter Leo Fuller of the Fort Worth Examiner.
Proving his mettle in the city’s red-light district and the saloons that catered to the cattle drive cowboys of the turn of the century, Sharp made Detective just as most of the illicit activities were moving north of the city limits along Thunder Road.
For a few months, life was great. Sharp had a detective’s badge, a new wife, and a small house on the west side of town. And then came December 7th.
Sharp enlisted on December 15th, after a week of arguing with Evelyn and her family about it. He did his boot camp in San Antonio, where, because of his police experience, he was made a sergeant, then to avenge the Japanese attack on Hawaii, he and his platoon were sent across the Atlantic to Tunisia and North Africa. Sharp fought across North Africa, then the Italian Campaign, and would have gone to Normandy but was still in the hospital recovering from battle wounds. He received the Purple Heart on three separate occasions, a Bronze Star, a battlefield promotion to Lieutenant, and just before the end of the war, another promotion to Captain. “Primarily,” he said, “for not getting all his men killed.
Sharp returned from the war to find jobs scarce. Evelyn was distant. She’d become involved with Elmer “Smitty” Smithson, a Ranger whose flat feet kept him out of the war. She was horrified when her father E.G. Lavelle, the Director of the Fort Worth and Western Stockman’s Association, gave her husband a job working with the Association and her boyfriend to ensure she’d be taken care of. Fortunately for Evelyn, most of the job had Sharp on the road doing long stakeout work at ranches rather than at home. And that is where we find Jefferson Sharp as Thunder Road opens around his cold morning campsite. ♦
by Colin Holmes
May 1 – 26, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
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.
Genre: Noir Mystery
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780744304978 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 9780744304961 (Paperback)
ISBN: 9780744304947 (eBook)
ISBN: 9780744304855 (Digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B09QRN82F2 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09RJLQS2S (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Bookshop.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes and Noble | B&N eBook | B&N Audiobook | Goodreads | CamCat Books | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook
Praise for Thunder Road:
“This genre-defying and enormously entertaining romp is Mickey Spillane meets Whitley Strieber meets Woody Allen. I can’t remember when I’ve had so much plain old fun reading a book and just didn’t want it to end.”br>~ Historical Novel Society, Editor’s Choice
“Sparkling 1940’s dialogue, wry humor, an unpredictable yet coherent storyline, and a breezy style all his own, make Colin Holmes’ somewhat spooky novel, Thunder Road, a winner. I’ll be on the lookout for his next novel.”
~ Rob Leininger, author of Killing Suki Flood and the Mortimer Angel “Gumshoe” series
“[In this] intriguing debut . . . clear crisp prose . . . morphs from a western into a detective story with an overlay of conspiracy theories.”
~ Publishers Weekly
“. . . one of the best mysteries I’ve ever read. The plot, characterization, timing, setting, dialogue, and tension was spot on. Love the noir feel of the past. Have to admit the ending twist caught me by surprise. Well done..”
~ Larry Enmon, author of Class III Threat, City of Fear, and The Burial Place
Before the pandemic, Colin Holmes toiled in a beige cubical as a mid-level marketing and advertising manager for an international electronics firm. A recovering advertising creative director, he spent far too long at ad agencies and freelancing as a hired gun in the war for capitalism.
As an adman, Holmes has written newspaper classifieds, TV commercials, radio spots, trade journal articles, and tweets. His ads have sold cowboy boots and cheeseburgers, 72-ounce steaks, and hazardous waste site clean-up services. He’s encountered fascinating characters at every turn.
Now he writes novels, short stories, and screenplays in an effort to stay out of the way and not drive his far too-patient wife completely crazy. He is an honors graduate of the UCLA Writers Program, a former board member of the DFW Writers Workshop, and serves on the steering committee of the DFW Writers Conference. He’s a fan of baseball, barbeque, fine automobiles, and unpretentious scotch.
Catch Up With Colin Holmes:
BookBub – @bycolinholmes
Instagram – @bycolinholmes
Twitter – @bycolinholmes
Facebook – @colin.holmes.1213
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