Johnny Shaw, a native of California’s Imperial Valley, takes us into the heart of his home stomping ground with a first novel that is compelling, funny, and a page-turning crime drama. At 378 pages Shaw has the luxury of putting down every thing he knows about both sides of the border. At times tender, tough, and often desperate, the story turns on Jimmy Veeder’s return home to care for his dying father, Jack. Having spent the last 12 years in a fruitless search for himself, his return is fraught with issues he has left unresolved.
His father, on his deathbed, leaves him with a request to find a Mexican whore named Yolanda. He enlists the help of a childhood friend, Bobby Maves, who proves to be an unpredictable ally and a wonderfully written character. Jimmy’s search leads him across the border and into the middle of the Mexican crime wars and an unexpected meeting with another friend from his school days. Murder, mayhem, and totally unseen plot twists ensue. As the truth about who his father was begins to be bared Jimmy must come to terms with his maturity and his relationship to his past and future.
This novel was one of 3 finalists in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award’s of 2010. It is a well-deserved award winner. Shaw portrays his California border setting with skill, humor, and an intense humanity. The story builds to a violent series of events and in the end leaves Jimmy changed forever. Johnny Shaw, a screenwriter, playwright, and writing teacher has now become a novelist with a unique voice and a wonderful cast of characters. This book is the first of a planned series. I look forward to where Jimmy, Bobby, and the Valley setting will take us next. Do not miss this wonderful and exciting debut.
STEVE SHADOW SCHWARTZ
For further crime fiction reading of slightly different bents I suggest:
The Dummy Line by Bobby Cole
Fall From Grace & A Killing Winter by Wayne Arthurson
Hell On Church Street by Jake Hinkson