Yorgason has created a curiously compelling book that blends mild elements of fantasy with the story of a town caught up in a mob mentality.
Cluvarous Jones’ father is a prosperous businessman and County Recorder for their rural Western town. A mysterious man, Carlos De Ortega, who claims to represent an oil company in the East, approaches him late one night. He also claims to have discovered an oil deposit on land owned by an aged couple, Gabriel and Keziah Jane. The townsfolk believe these elderly folks are Indians; and, since it is illegal for Indians to own land, de Ortega asks Cluvarous’ father to help him gain control of the land. Mr. Jones refuses to participate in the scam. Mr. de Ortega begins to rally the townsfolk with promises of the oil wealth that they can claim if Mr. Jones will nullify the claim.
Through the eyes of eleven-year-old Cluvarous, the tale vividly describes the downward spiral of the town as mob rule takes over. Cluvarous and his sister Jane, in spending time with Gabriel and his wife, slowly learn the strange story of how this mysterious couple came to settle in the bleakest place in the area — a place of sour water and seeping oil.
Mr. Yorgason writes a story that combines elements of history, morality and fantasy. His descriptions of a “modern” turn-of-the-century small town torn apart by greed are very well done. The language and details of the story vividly envoke the period.