Fire in the Hole is set in the southern coal fields of West Virginia in 1920-21. A place and time
of unprecedented labor strife across American industry. That strife turned increasingly more
violent in West Virginia over many tears. Into this volatile environment are drawn a former
decorated U.S. Marine and an activist New York lawyer challenge the oppression dictated by the collective interests of the coal mining industry.

Coal mining was extraordinarily dangerous work under deplorable working conditions for
low pay. Miners and their families lived under oppressive circumstances in remote areas of
Appalachia in conditions of near serfdom described as corporate feudalism. A social and political environment where corporate economic interests of the coal mining companies controlled local government. These mining companies refused to negotiate with organized labor. The violence
stemmed from confrontations between militant striking miners and the Baldwin-Felts Detective
Agency hired by the mining interests.

The novel explores this charged environment as America wrestled with social issues related
to capitalist economic interests competing with labor interests during a time of transcendental
social change. The United States’ emergence as the world’s only superpower following WWI,
women’s suffrage and associated gender rights, child labor, the threat of international
Communism, and the unpopular Volsted Act prohibiting the drinking of alcoholic beverages.
This was the beginning of the Jazz Age that would foreshadow two decades of social turbulence before the onset of the next world war.