Fracked To Death

Fracked To Death

by Lee Mossel


Publisher CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published in Mystery & Thrillers/Mystery, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description


Drilling and fracking oil wells can be a dangerous business. The chance to learn the latest technologies while guarding the life of Denver's richest woman, oil tycoon Mercy Drexler, is the one thing that will draw geologist turned PI, Cortlandt Scott, "back in the game."

He hadn't counted on criminal governments and business enterprises, radical environmentalists, and international terrorists to threaten his new client.

He must rely on his instincts and help from others to avoid being "FRACKED TO DEATH!"

Sample Chapter

We entered the lobby of the Anaconda Building and waited in front of the express elevator for the Petroleum Club on the thirty-seventh floor. The doors slid open and we stepped in. As they started to close, an arm thrust inside and banged against the bumpers. The doors retracted and a heavyset man barged into the car.

“Thanks a lot for holding the car, although if I’d known it was you, Mercy, I probably would have waited for the next one.” The guy’s voice was heavy with sarcasm. He was wearing a well cut, obviously expensive, dove-gray suit, a white shirt, and a pearlescent silver tie. His shoes looked expensive too.

“Always nice to see you too, Guilford.” Mercy’s tone matched the new passenger’s in sarcasm.

I assumed from the unusual name the newcomer was Guilford Rockson, founder, CEO, president, and chairman of Rockson International. I knew him by reputation only and that wasn’t exactly sterling. His company was known for cutting every corner it could and spending almost as much time in court as it did drilling. Regardless, Rockson had grown from a small contract driller to an international production company. They’d managed to sign lease concessions and production-sharing contracts with several Asian and African countries and were rumored to be pursuing similar arrangements with some of the smaller national oil companies in the Mideast and Eastern Europe. They’d been early players in horizontal natural gas drilling and, at last count, had become the largest independent gas producer in the U.S. They’d recently announced moving their head office toHouston, so I was surprised to encounter

Guilford Rockson himself in a Denver elevator.

Rockson gave me a quick once-over, turned to Mercy and said, “You come down off your fuckin’ high horse yet? You get over that bullshit about wantin’ a ‘royalty’ for fracking a goddamn well?” I started at the profanities and watched Mercy’s face color.

She stared back at Rockson before replying, “I guess everything I’ve heard about you is true, Guilford. You really are a pig--and that’s probably an insult to a good pig. You know, I regret having even shown you my methodology. I have the final say on which companies I work for and you can be sure you’re not going to be one of them. Too bad, too…all your horizontal plays scattered around the world would benefit, but that’s not going to happen.”

Rockson bristled, leaned forward, and hissed, “You bitch! We’ll see about that. I’m goin’ to--

I arm barred his chest and pushed him back a couple of steps. “That’s enough! You need to back off a couple notches, pardner.”

Rockson looked surprised, but blustered, “Who the hell are you? You ain’t got no stake in this! This bitch is trying to extort money from--

I slammed him against the elevator door. “I told you to back off! Ms. Drexler and I are having lunch at the Petroleum Club and unless you want to have your prime rib sandwich served through a straw, I suggest you keep your voice down and maintain a civil tongue. I’m Cort Scott by the way; I work for Ms. Drexler, so I do have a stake in this.”

Rockson seemed to settle. I took my hand off his chest and stepped back beside Mercy. He surveyed me carefully for a moment and said, “I’ve heard of you, Scott. You’re the washed out geologist who got rich off your dead girlfriend’s gasdiscovery. Now you’re running around saying you’re some kind of detective or some such bullshit. I’ve got half a mindto--

I retraced my step to get up in his face. “You’re right about one thing, Rockson--you’ve got half a mind. Now, like I said before, ‘back the hell off!’ We’re almost to the Club; when the door opens, you need to step out and not look back. We’re going to our table and enjoy a nice lunch. I’m not one to make idle threats, so listen up. If you ever address Mercy Drexler like you just did, I’ll be coming to see you. If I have to do that, I’ll kick your ass so far up between your shoulder blades, you’ll have to take your teeth out to shit! Got it?” I grabbed him by the shoulders and spun him just as we arrived at the 37th floor. The door opened and I shoved him out.

The girl at the reservations stand jumped as Rockson stumbled out. He had to catch the podium to keep from falling. I heard him mumble, “single’s table” as he rushed into the Front Range Room, turned right, and continued to the twelve-place table in the north end of the room reserved for lone diners.

We stepped up and Mercy said, “Reservation for Drexler.” The girl nervously flashed a smile and said, “Yes, of course, Ms. Drexler; nice to see you again. I have your regular table.”

Mercy returned the smile, “Thank you, Willa.” The hostess picked up two menus and led the way to a round four-top in the southwest corner of the big room. There were two place settings arranged side by side with our backs to the room to take advantage of the unobstructed view of the Front Range. As soon as we were seated and Willa departed, Mercy began laughing. I could see she was struggling to stifle herself. Her face contorted and she brought both hands up to cover it. Laugh tears welled up as she gasped, “Oh my God, Cort… ‘take your teeth out to shit!’ That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard! Where in the world? Did you really say that? Oh my God! Did you see the look on his face? I’ll bet no one has spoken to Guilford Rockson like that in thirty years! Thank you so much! I knew I was hiring the right man. That calls for a celebratory drink for sure; what’ll you have?”

Her mood was infectious and I laughed myself. “It’s another ‘Hedge-ism’ from my long gone and dearly-departed friend. He had a saying for almost anything; some of ‘em didn’t make much sense, but they were always funny and strangely appropriate. I’ll just have a beer, a Bud, if that’s all right.”

She giggled again. “Of course it’s all right; I’m having a glass of chardonnay, a 2009 Jordan. They keep a case or so around for me.” A waiter appeared and Mercy ordered the drinks. She looked over each shoulder before quietly saying, “You know Rockson has a reputation for getting even. I’d keep an eye out and be careful for a while if I were you.”

“I’ll do that. He’s kind of rough around the edges isn’t he?”

“I guess that’s a nice way to put it. Do you know his story?”

The drinks arrived and the waiter poured my beer in a talllager glass before I could stop him. I prefer it out of the bottle. I raised the glass, tapped it against Mercy’s, and said, “Here’s to ‘getting back in the game’, I guess. No, I don’t know much about Rockson other than he’s rich as Croesus and becoming a big player worldwide.”

She sipped the wine and nodded her head in silent appreciation. “He’s a devious bastard from the original school of hard knocks; started out as a roughneck in southern Illinois and worked his way up to toolpusher on one of Charlie Rexall’s rigs. The first thing you know, he married Rexall’s daughter, Helen. She was probably twelve or fifteen years older than he was and ugly as sin; had a face that would make a train take a dirt road. Old Charlie knew what was going on, but he was just so damnglad to get rid of her, he never said a word. It lasted about seven or eight years, until about a year after Charlie died. Rockson was running the company by then and when Helen inherited everything, he did all he could to piss her off. He was openly campaigning for a divorce and eventually she gavein.

He went to a bank, mortgaged the company, gave her several million in cash, and promised her a share of the profits for twenty years. She agreed, gave him the divorce, moved to Santa Barbara, and has had a series of ‘boy friends’…and I do mean boys…ever since.

“Rockson started taking working interest positions in the wildcat prospects he was drilling by giving the operators a discount and the lucky bastard started hitting. Eventually, he bought some more rigs, moved into the Rockies doing the same thing, and kept finding oil. He hired some geologists and began generating his own prospects, concentrated on natural gas, and figured out horizontal drilling was the way to go. Long story short, he’s gotten rich, expanded all over the world, but has about tapped out the gas plays. He desperately wants to get in the shale oil plays, but that requires horizontal drilling and multiple frack jobs…my technology.

“The very first presentation of my new technologies was to his general manager and we were just getting started on the proposal stage when Rockson flew into their conference room. He must have the room miked because he’d obviously been listening. He raced in yelling and cussing about how he wouldn’t stand for it; how he’d sue me on all kinds of restraint of trade issues, plus a whole bunch of other bullshit. When he finally shut up long enough to catch his breath, I dropped the fact on him that everything was patented and copyrighted and he couldn’t do a damn thing about it. I thought he was going to have a heart attack right on the spot. Today is the first time I’ve seen him since; it doesn’t look like he’s cooled down much.”

I took a pull on my beer and asked, “Do you think he’s the one who threatened you?”

She thought for moment before answering. “I don’t know.Like I said, the physical threats have been anonymous.”

“What’s your gut feeling?”

“Frankly, even as much of an ass as Rockson is, if he was going to threaten me, I think he’d tell me face to face…like in the elevator. But he’s a hard guy to figure and there’s no telling what is in his mind. I heard a rumor he was even getting involved in all kinds of weird military stuff.”

That got my attention, “What do you mean?”

“Nothing concrete, but a friend of mine told me Rockson has a small ranch down in Texas, somewhere close to Dallas I think, and he was fortifying the place and stockpiling all kinds of military equipment. My friend said Rockson was ‘preparing for when the government tried to take over’ or some sort of BS like that.”

The waiter reappeared and we ordered lunch: a tuna melt for me and a Monte Cristo sandwich for Mercy. I turned to glance the length of the room and saw Guilford Rockson sitting alone at the head of the singles table. He was looking our way and talking on a cellphone. “I’ve already agreed to take this on, Mercy, but I’d like to ask a couple more questions; that okay?”

“Sure, ask away.”

“First, I have a girlfriend, Lindsey Collins. She’s a crime scene investigator in the Arapahoe County sheriff’s office. If it’s convenient and she can get the time off, I’d like to take her along on some of our trips. If you’ll pardon the pun, will that fly?”

Mercy grimaced at the pun, smiled, and said, “No problem; Siren owns a Gulfstream G280; we can seat eight to twelve for domestic flights or six with sleeping berths for international travel. Lindsey would be welcome anytime, plus it might be nice to have another woman along. What else?”

“Kind of relates I guess; I haven’t seen any mention of a husband or significant other in any of the stuff I’ve read about you. Is there one?”

Another smile, “There’s no husband and, currently, no ‘significant other’. No real reason, I just never seem to find the time and now, believe it or not, it’s tough to meet men. Frankly, I’m too rich and that makes me intimidating, I suppose.”

I was modestly surprised at both her answer and frankness. “When do classes start?”

She raised her glass and we clinked. “Tomorrow. We have four days this week and that should be enough time to get you up to speed. We’ll be flying to Houston first thing Monday morning and meeting with Shale-Ex in the afternoon.” She double clinked, “Here’s to a great relationship; I’m looking forward toit!”


Excerpted from "Fracked To Death" by Lee Mossel. Copyright © 2017 by Lee Mossel. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Lee Mossel

Lee Mossel

Lee Mossel was born, raised, and educated in Oregon with BS and MS degrees in geology from the University of Oregon. He spent 35 years in the oil and gas exploration business in Denver, CO, and began a second career as a novelist with the publication of his first Cortlandt Scott crime thriller, THE MURDER PROSPECT, in 2012. FRACKED TO DEATH is the fourth Cortlandt Scott mystery thriller. He is also the author of BED OF THORNS a standalone novel dealing with a young woman's bad life choices and her lifetime of consequences.

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