Blue Street Press (2017)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (12/17)
“Beer and Gasoline” by John Knoerle is quite a different way to write a story in that it gave detailed conversations with various characters through taped interviews or encrypted messages between the CIA Chief and his trusted aide.
The story revolves around Camp X, a top-secret facility in the Mojave Desert in 1968. Lt. Dick Nolan is sent to investigate the death of a spy who was disguised as a trash collector at the camp.
Nolan encounters local law enforcement in the small town of Needles, CA, whose biggest worry is domestic violence calls and beer hall fights. Since all the native people there are quite familiar with the desert heat and potential for death, they are able to provide great insight into local happenings.
I did find it interesting that there were several theories on why the trash collector was killed, from “fake death,” to KGB interference, to the CIA Chief deliberately turning on his agents. I found it wasn’t until about halfway through that the book started getting to the point, however I did find the story line to be quite believable, and reminded me of current news headlines today.
The author was very descriptive in his writing about the heat of the desert, and you can actually feel the heat and need for water in the opening of his story. I loved Officer Bell of the Needles Police Department; he acted like a small town country policeman, and was smarter than he appeared. Being able to identify tire track marks with Pledge was quite genius on the author’s part and that of the native tribal ways. At first I didn’t quite understand the need for the letters from Nolan and his wife and daughter, but in the end, I got it.
“Beer and Gasoline” is the latest in the trilogy series for John Knoerle that reads well as a standalone story. It includes historical facts, humor and a slow build up of spy mission adventures.
If you are a fan of historical fiction, espionage, and thrillers you will like this uniquely designed read.