Dove Season by Johnny Shaw (Thomas & Mercer)-Jimmy Veeder hasn’t seen his dad, Jack, in years, but he’s back home after Jack finally discloses to him that he’s suffering from cancer and living out the rest of his days in hospice. Jimmy is a college grad, but his degree in English literature isn’t doing him any good, and he’s been wiling away his days doing a variety of manual labor. Jimmy loves his father, and is glad to be back with him, even if it’s for a short time, so he opens up the old house, now full of dust and with a busted air conditioner, and starts mentally ticking off all the things that need fixing. During a visit with his father, and after some catching up, Jack makes a rather odd request: he wants Jimmy to track down a prostitute named Yolanda. So, Jimmy calls on his old friend Bobby Maves to help him out with his rather odd quest. He’s not about to deny his father at this point, and looks forward to spending time with Bobby in the process. Their search leads them to Tomás, the nephew of the man that runs the bar across the street from Jimmy’s house. The last time Jimmy saw Tomás, he was a kid that carried around a briefcase and had nerd written all over him. Not anymore. He’s all grown up, and now Tomás runs girls, among other things, but he remembers Jimmy and is willing to help. Tomás does find Yolanda and Jack is able to see her before he dies. Unfortunately, not too long after Jack dies, Yolanda dies too, and her death certainly is not a natural one. In fact, Jimmy and Bobby find her broken body in the cistern on Jimmy’s property. Her death leads Jimmy on a quest to find her family so that he can tell them what happened to her, and if you think more than a few cans of worms are already opened, things are just about to get really interesting.
I really, really enjoyed this nourish tale that’s set among the melting pot of Holtville, in the Imperial Valley of Southern California. The heat is stifling, but the beer is cold. A little about our hero: Jimmy Veeder is just about one of the most affable protagonists you’ll ever meet, and it’s in his voice that the book is presented. He’s kind of your every guy, and if it was really up to him, he’d drink a lot of beer and hang around shooting the shit with Bobby. His father’s death has forced him to take on more responsibility than he wants, and he realizes that since he’s now got a 300+ acre farm on his hands, he’ll have to mature pretty quickly. When Yolanda is killed, that sets off a chain of events that will force him to grow up even more. So, I suppose you could call this a coming of age story, wrapped in a buddy story, Bobby being the buddy of course. He’s the kind of friend that, even though they haven’t had a lot of face time in the past, Jimmy knows Bobby has his back. Bobby is loud, crude, and very often drunk, but his heart is huge (much like his mouth), and he’s intensely loveable. Amidst the shootouts (of which there are a few), the brawls, and the wildness that often goes along with any border town, this book is about loyalty, friendship, and how family can take many forms. I may have gotten teary once or twice, but don’t tell anyone.
If you’re wondering , the title Dove Season refers to, well, dove season, and the gunshots that can be heard almost constantly as hunters shoot birds of peace out of the skies, and it’s a soundtrack to a few key scenes in the story. The possible rekindling of an old romance has Jimmy hopeful while he dodges bullets and fists, and in spite of some sobering scenes, this book had me laughing quite a bit, especially the moments between Jimmy and his father. Keep an eye out for Buck Buck and Snout too. You’ll like them. Even Tomás has his own kind of dubious charm, even if he is a stone cold killer. The conclusion is game changing for Jimmy and will have you anxious to dive into Plaster City. If you’ve read the Nick Reid novels by Rick Gavin, you’ll love this, or if you just like your crime noir with humor and literary flair, this is one for you. What an awesome book.