Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Posts Tagged ‘stolen car’

RANCHERO by Rick Gavin: Book Revieew

There’s a reason the Mississippi Delta gave birth to The Blues. Rick Gavin’s picture of life there is pretty dismal.  His protagonist, repo man Nick Reid, has given up a job with the police in a small Virginia town for reasons that are not explained.  For another unexplained reason, he’s moved to Indianola, Mississippi, a dismal small Delta town surrounded by towns that are even deeper into poverty and despair.

When Nick goes to the place where Percy Dwayne Dubois lives (calling it a home would be an over-the-top compliment) to repossess a forty-two inch plasma television set on which Percy Dwayne has neglected to make payments, his arrival isn’t greeted happily.  Percy Dwayne hits Nick over the head with a shovel, and while Nick is lying stunned on the kitchen floor, Percy Dwayne’s wife suggests that they should hack him up and pack him off to the woods in a sack.

After tying Nick up, to add insult to injury Percy Dwayne, his wife, and their diaper-clad toddler son make their getaway in the Ranchero, a beautiful 1969 vehicle that Nick borrowed from his landlady. A Ranchero is “sort of a low-slung, boxy coupe in the front and a shallow truck in the back,” and apparently this particular vehicle was in mint condition, its coral-colored paint gleaming as if it had just come off the assembly line at Ford.

Before going off in the Ranchero to repossess the TV, Nick had promised his landlady that he would take scrupulous care of her late husband’s car, and that’s the premise of the novel.  All Nick really wants to do is to recover the car and repossess the television, but life is much more complicated than that.

This is a very low-key premise on which to write a mystery novel–no kidnapping, no murder, no rape.  But in Rick Gavin’s extraordinarily capable hands, there’s as much tension here as in any high-concept novel or movie. And there is an incredible amount of humor as well.

Nick Reid is very much a man of mystery in this first novel, which I hope will soon be followed by others. His new job is definitely a come-down from his previous one, he seems to have no family or friends left behind in Virginia, and the reader doesn’t know anything about his background.  What we do know is that he’s a man who keeps his promises, regardless of the “tussling” it costs him.  He pursues Percy Dwayne across the Delta, meeting up with various characters who make the fugitive seem like a gentleman and a scholar.

The author’s descriptions of the houses and scenery of the Delta are staggering.  Percy Dwayne’s “front room was shin-deep in trash and pieces of cast-off clothing.”  Describing how he got out of the ropes with which the couple had tied him, Nick says, “Because they were shiftless trash, I was almost half a minute working loose.”  And going to find a man named Luther, who may or may not know where Percy Dwayne and his wife have fled, Nick and his friend Desmond drive down Lee Boulevard in Webb, Mississippi, where instead of statues of Confederate luminaries on horseback there are car engines rigged to live oaks with blocks and tackles.

This first novel is too good to put down, so be prepared to read it straight through. Unfortunately, there’s no biography or web page I could find for Rick Gavin, only a brief blurb on the novel’s back cover.  “Rick Gavin frames houses and hangs Sheetrock in Ruston, Louisiana, when he’s not writing.  This is his first novel.”  I’m hoping he puts down his framing tools and goes back to his computer as soon as possible.