Southwest of Heaven

Giles Tippette, Author
Giles Tippette, Author Forge $25.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-312-86048-6
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Mass Market Paperbound - 389 pages - 978-0-8125-4920-1
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Second in a projected trilogy (after Heaven's Gold), this charming novel by a prolific (more than 30 novels and nonfiction books; over 500 essays) Texas writer, pilot, mercenary, diamond courier and rodeo cowboy takes on added significance since the author died this year before finishing the third book in the series. In 1924, Willis Young, a disenchanted 27-year-old ex-WWI flying ace turned unemployed wanderer, meets up with his former wartime airplane mechanic, Dennis Frank, whom he hasn't seen since the Armistice. A decade Willis's senior, Dennis is a wildcat oil prospector arriving in Galveston to get Teddy Atlas, a high-rolling gambler, to finance his next venture. Dennis soon finds out that Willis owns a vast but worthless piece of land west of Pecos, and bamboozles the deep-pocketed Atlas into bankrolling an elaborate oil-drilling project there. Meanwhile, Willis is hopelessly enamored of wealthy Houston divorcee Genevieve Maxwell, who is far too savvy to go chasing after oil in west Texas. Using an airplane to prospect in the badlands, Willis runs afoul of a crooked judge, a kindly sheriff and a beautiful blonde apparition whom he is convinced is an angel (she miraculously supplies eight exotic Swiss banded oxen of mythic prowess). When Dennis strikes pure artesian water instead of oil, Atlas shows up for a shakedown until generous Genevieve steps in to lend a hand. Part Indiana Jones, part The Sting, with touches of Stephen King and Elmore Leonard, this is a marvelously quixotic take on the pioneer days of the Texas ""awl bidness."" (Feb.)
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