The Rogues’ Game
Milton T. Burton knows Texas inside out, and one can only hope that this first novel will not be his last. The book’s dust jacket proclaims it “a mystery,” but it’s really a series of multiple, intertwined con jobs, many of which are not fully exposed until the final chapters.
It’s 1947, and a nameless narrator breezes into a nameless West Texas town with his enigmatic girlfriend Della. He says he’s in town for a high-stakes poker game at the local hotel, but readers know early that he’s come for a great deal more than that. The narrator and Della quickly get caught up in an oil boom. The novel is peppered with scores of memorable characters, including Chicken Little, an Oklahoma gamecock breeder and ex-con; Ollie Marne, a deputy who needs to decide just how good “the good guys” should be; and Clifton Robillard, a banker who may have unsavory ties to the Nazis.
Burton has an astounding wealth of knowledge about the laws and paper trails involved in post-WWII Texan real estate and oil; such a topic might be dry in lesser hands, but he uses it to create a fascinating account of small-town skullduggery.