Thursday, March 15, 2012

Johnny Shaw's Dove Season

Johnny Shaw's Dove Season is a hardboiled murder mystery with the Imperial Valley as the backdrop. After years away, the main character Jimmy Veeder comes home to visit his cancer-ridden father, who asks him to find a particular prostitute in Mexicali. Only later does it become clear that it wasn't just an old man's last request but rather part of a larger transborder story.

The book morphs into a mystery, though Veeder is no private eye and the characters and atmosphere are more interesting than the fairly simple mystery itself. That includes a foray into Mexicali and extensive interaction with an old friend who now happens to be head of a Mexican crime syndicate.

It gradually dawned on me that the novel reminded me of the Wall of Voodoo song "Call of the West." It's all dusty streets, amorality, sex and violence in the hot towns on the U.S.-Mexico border, with Ennio Morricone in the background. A bit of Cormac McCarthy but with more of a sense of humor. The first lines of the novel are "There is something about the desert that pisses everything off."


Alfredo 1:11 PM  

Because of the Ridgway connection I think I will check the novel out. Stan the man is a favorite of mine.

Greg Weeks 5:11 PM  

I saw him live many years ago in Berkeley while I was in college--great singer/songwriter.

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