Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976-77)
THIS WELL-WRITTEN NOVEL with a unique setting and very interesting, well developed characters who the author treats sympathetically. Author David Mather holds our interest by mixing background about Florida’s rural “Big Bend” region on the Gulf Coast and each character into the ongoing action of the story. It is a page-turner that is difficult to put down. The characters support each other and care for each other in heart-warming ways. By the end of the book, readers feel like they know these people and would be happy to have them for neighbors.
The dialog is peppered with colorful, often humorous, local expressions. The author’s use of multiple narrators enhances the readers’ understanding of the different characters by allowing us to see events from their differing perspectives. There is a twist at the end that reinforces the theme that rural folks look out for each other, regardless of their differences.
I haven’t read a book that fascinates me with its combination of unique location and characters who are characters since The Shipping News, some years ago. If this novel had either a big name author associated with it, or a large publishing house behind it to sponsor author events around the country, I have no doubt that it would be a best seller.
I could see it being made into a movie or a T.V. series. Similar to Northern Exposure, except in the rural Gulf Coast, or Mayberry RFD, but the PG13 version. I would cast Duane “The Rock” Johnson as Rusty, the undercover state trooper who is just a good old boy at heart.
My only gripe is that the book twice identifies a famous stock car driver as Junior Thompson, and twice as Junior Johnson! You just need to use global search and replace.
D. W. Jefferson was a Peace Corps agriculture volunteer in El Salvador (1974-6) and Costa Rica (1976-7). A blog about his Peace Corps years is at: dwjefferson.blogspot.com. He is currently retired from a career in computer software engineering.