East of Texas, West of Hell

Rod Davis’s New Addition to his ‘Jack Prine’ Private Investigator Series Offers Plenty of Action, Gunplay, and Southern Geography

Labels can be attached to this new novel, the second book in Rod Davis’s “Jack Prine” private investigator series. For example, you might call it “Southern noir” or perhaps “grit lit.” Whatever. I call it “good reading,” and if you’re looking for a new detective series to follow, I recommend checking out East of Texas, West of Hell. However, if you prefer to always begin with the debut book in a series, start with the first “Jack Prine” book, South, America. There, you can pick up more of Jack Prine’s back story and his approach to life, danger, and justice.

Prine, an ex-Dallas TV reporter/anchor turned New Orleans private detective, has a good and generous heart when he’s among friends he can trust. But he can be reckless and quick to use his fists, guns, or other weapons when the action and danger get hot. For example, during an tense incident in East of Texas, West of Hell, he sneaks into a rural drug lab and finds two men in the middle of cooking meth. They respond by making sudden moves, and Prine recounts: “I didn’t know if they were reaching for guns or tending to their cook, so I shot them anyway.” Prine’s quick-triggered reaction also inadvertently sparks a big fire and raises the stakes quickly for some of the book’s major characters. In short, Jack Prine not only looks for trouble but sometimes creates trouble for himself and others as he tries relentlessly to get to the truth behind some bad situations.

East of Texas, West of Hell, published by New South Press, Montgomery, AL

Rod Davis, who now lives and writes in San Antonio, Texas, is a veteran writer of both journalism and fiction. He is a former editor of The Texas Observer and has written for numerous other publications and has taught writing at the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University.

Si Dunn

The History of a ‘Scandalous and Violent’ Texas Railroad

The Texas Railroad

The Scandalous and Violent History of the International and Great Northern Railroad, 1866-1925

Wayne Cline

(For book information, click here.)

The Texas Railroad tells the fascinating story of a railroad enterprise that originally intended to create the world’s longest rail line, from Houston, Texas, to the Canadian border. But it couldn’t get enough funding. So it became the International and Great Northern Railroad ironically serving just one Southern state, Texas, and most of its major cities, including Austin, Fort Worth, Galveston, Houston, Laredo, San Antonio, and Waco.

Wayne Cline’s well-written and well-researched book takes the reader into finanicial and political scandals that allowed the great 19th-century “Robber Baron” Jay Gould to gain control of the I&GN Railroad, which his son later inherited and proudly dubbed “The Texas Railroad.” Cline’s work describes how the railroad operated, served its passengers, took care of its rolling stock and tracks, and suffered several train robberies. The author also recounts labor conflicts and violence related to unions and how the I&GN Railroad was affected not only by the massive Galveston hurricane in 1900 but by the Mexican Revolution that began in 1910, as well.

The Texas Railroad is an intriguing work of American and Texas railroad history that should please not only rail buffs but readers of history and economics interested in how this “key railroad played a major role in the agricultural, industrial, social and political development of the Lone Star State.”

Cline’s previous book also is a work of railroad history, Alabama Railroads from the University of Alabama Press.

Si Dunn