Top positive review
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great debut crime novel
on 1 October 2011
Debut crime novel from American screenwriter/playright and one time bookstore owner Johnny Shaw. Set in the desert lands of the Imperial Valley on the Southern Californian and Mexico borders the book is subtitled "A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco" as our hero stumbles from one alcohol fuelled disaster to the next.
Personally, I loved this book and hope it is the first of a series featuring the rather mixed up and much too laid back Mr Veeder. The dialogue is cool, snappy, moves at a good pace but I must warn of an excess of swearing throughout and a reasonable amount of violence.
Being a screenwriter by trade I guess Mr Shaw writes with film rights in mind but he does manage to create broad mental visions of his settings with a very 'colourful' use of words. It is the sort of book you read and visualise at the same time, for me these descriptive mental images take a very special type of writer, an artist painting with words - although maybe in this case I should say 'piss' artist.
Having said that there is also plenty of quite raw emotion in the story as Veeder who left his father's farm some 12 years ago to try and find fame and fortune in the big city, without much success, gets a phone call from his Dad who tells him he is in a Nursing Home in the last stages of stomach cancer.
Veeder drops everything, not that there was much to drop and goes back to his hot, dry, desert home town to help his Dad through his last couple of weeks.
His 84 year old Dad then comes up with a strange 'last request', straight out of left field, and asks his son to go into the nearby Mexican border town of Mexicali and track down a tall, good looking, Mexican hooker by the name of Yolanda.
I'm not giving away anymore of the plot than other than to say it is highly original, often humorous, often surprising, very surprising in fact as a couple of twists you never see coming jump off the page at you forcing you to make moral judgements as to the character of our leading man. At times the story can make you take a look at yourself, often in ways you do not particulary want to!
I found it a real page turner, cannot compare Veeder to any other 'hero' or 'anti hero' on the literary crime circuit at the moment, Vachss's 'Burke' or Childs's 'Reacher' he most definitely is not. No short change either, nearly 400 pages of story.
Hope the book sells well because it merits success. However, it is not your average crime novel and maybe not for the average crime novel reader. If your tastes run a little more to dodgy characters, sleazey bars & nightclubs and the darker side of the exotic - then 'Dove Season' is for you.