Black Oil, Red Blood - By Diane Castle


This book would not be complete without a giant thank you to my friend and mentor, Carole Nelson Douglas. Words cannot express how much I appreciate your help, encouragement, and friendship. To the readers—if you have not read Carole’s Sherlock Holmes/Irene Adler books or her Midnight Louie mystery series, do so immediately. You’re in for a real treat.

Secondly, I would like to thank my other beta readers: Angela Spring, Judy King, Julie VanDolen, and Jamie Spence. Angela, I can’t thank you enough for reading every single revision and providing invaluable advice and support—your feedback on the ending was particularly helpful. Judy, thanks for going through the manuscript not once, but twice! And thank you for your ever-faithful friendship, which I will treasure always. Your kindness and generosity of spirit inspires me every day. Julie—thanks for your tremendous support during development and for listening to me rant about benzene, carcinogens, and the whole book submission process ad nauseam! Don’t know what I’d do without ya. Jamie, this book would have definitely had a crummy opening without you! You’re an amazing writer yourself, and I can’t wait to see your book in print!

I'd also like to thank attorney Keith Patton for teaching me the basics of toxic tort litigation.

Thank you also to JoAnna Couch for teaching me how to write in the first place, and for never laughing at me for having the audacity to think I could actually write a book.

Many thanks and all my love goes to my husband David. Without your support, this project would not have been possible. Thank you also to Jana, brother David, Dad, Joanne, Gary, and Linda for your love and encouragement.

Another big thank you goes out to all my wonderful Gulf Coast activist Facebook friends. You inspire me every day with the work you're doing down there. Stay strong, and never give up fighting the good fight!

Finally, thank YOU—yes, YOU. . . the person reading this right now—for taking time out to read this book. That means more to me than I can ever express.



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Thank You, from the Author

Facebook, Twitter, and the Blue Bulb Project

About the Author


I didn’t even know how to use a gun before yesterday, and I certainly hadn’t become a crack shot overnight. That didn’t bode well for my chances of survival at the moment —especially since I was currently staring down the wrong end of somebody else’s barrel. What was I supposed to do? Duck? Shoot first? Run?

Maybe the decision would have been easier if I hadn’t loved the guy pointing the gun at me. I watched his trigger finger tense as the smoky, toxic air around us seemed to grow even thicker. Walls shook and the floor rolled beneath me as an explosion thundered through the building. The PetroPlex flagship oil refinery was fast on its way to becoming nothing but a memory.

The doorframe buckled before my eyes—my only means of escape. Sharp orange tongues of flame lapped at me from above, sending down a rain of fiery particles as acoustic ceiling tiles disintegrated overhead.

That’s when I knew that gun or no gun, I was going to die.


The thing about cancer is it's hard to prove somebody gave it to you on purpose, but I can prove it. In fact, I make a living proving it. I sue oil refineries that would rather save a buck than comply with safety regulations designed to do important things like, you know, keep people alive. It’s not unusual for my clients to pass away in the middle of a case, but I’d never had an expert witness turn up dead until today.

My favorite client, Gracie Miller, hurried toward me as I walked up the stairs to the courthouse. I had hoped to put off talking to her until after I’d spoken to the judge. Her untamed gray hair spiraled out of a would-be bun, curls going in a million different directions.

“Chloe!” she said. “Is it true? Say it ain’t true!”

She didn’t wait for me to answer.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” Gracie said, “because I heard it from crazy Mrs. Bagley, and everybody knows she ought to be in a home already. But then I called Mrs. Scott, and sure enough, her husband is out at the crime scene with all