Mysterious Book Report No. 51

Memorial day weekend is by tradition the start of summer, and the beginning of vacation season.  It’s when we look forward to ice cream, baseball and garage sales . . . as well as “lazy hazy days,” halter tops, short shorts, sandals and flowers blooming for three months or more.  A lot of us think it’s the best time of the year . . . when we hop in the car and go places to see things.  And that’s why I’m kicking off the summer reading season with one of the most kick-ass road trip novels I’ve read since Jack Kerouac.

The novel is Head Games, (the Hector Lassiter Series, Black House Books, PB, 2007, $14.95, 300 pages, ISBN #978-0-615-44110-8) by Craig McDonald.

It was nominated for an Edgar in 2008, for Best First Novel, (more about the Edgar’s in next weeks MBR)  and is “Equal parts road novel, crime caper and historical fiction; a black comedy and wistful ballad of lost America rooted in borderland myth and history.”  That quote from the liner notes.  Book one is subtitled, 1957: The Land of Hope and Dreams, and the first sentence reads : “We were sitting in a backroom of a cantina on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, three drinks in, when Bill Wade reached into the dusty duffel bag he had tucked under the table and plunked down the Mexican generals head.”

The head is that of Doroteo Arango; known to all the world as Generalissimo Francisco “Pancho” Villa, the charismatic leader of the peasant army who nearly won the Mexican Civil War in the first quarter of the twentieth century.  Yeah, that guy . . . Pancho Villa.  A huge bounty is being offered for the head by Prescott Bush, the director of the CIA, a member of the infamous, and secret, Skull and Bones society at Yale University, the father of George Herbert Walker Bush, and grandfather of George W. Bush.  Yeah.  Those Bush’s.  That plan is opposed by about ten-thousand Mexican criminals, drug loads and their murderous, crazy, armed-to-the-teeth thugs, all of whom are bent on keeping the icon in Mexico.  Within a few pages of the first sentence, an all-out machine-gun and pistol fight takes place that leaves almost all the participants dead, and the narrator/protagonist Hector Lassiter fleeing for his life, running for the border in his ’57 Chevy Belaire, with two carloads of unidentified hostiles in close pursuit.  The chase, and the gun battles, run from Texas, to California, to New Haven Connecticut and back to Texas as everyone tries to get the head.  This one will leave you on the edge of your seat gasping for air and calling for more while laughing your butt off.  It’s fast and furious and fun in equal measures.

Now do you see what I’ve been telling you?  You never know what you’re going to find in the stacks of books at your local library.  But you won’t know if you don’t go, so give it a try, stop on by, grow mental wings and fly . . . down at the library.

Have you missed an MBR?  Want to re-read one?  Make you own comment about one?  Go to my website:

johndwainemckenna.com

Where you’ll find all fifty one of them.  It’s where you can click on the CONTACT button to leave any kind of message you dream up.  In addition to the reviews, you’ll find reading lists, links to Rhyolite Press, Face book, Twitter, and my blog . . . which is expanding with several new posts each week.  Stay tuned, Rhyolite has three new books we’re bringing out this year, as well as another author named Bert Entwistle, a polished writer with hundreds of magazine articles to his credit.  We’re excited about his talents, and his book.  It’s a 300 page mystery-thriller titled The Drift, which I’ll have more to say about in the coming weeks.  And hey, I’ve got another surprise for you in the form of a 125 page novel called The Whim-Wham Man, a coming-of-age story and murder mystery all wrapped up in one.  We’ll have further details in coming weeks, and on the blogs.  The Neversink Chronicles continues to attract new readers and fans all across the country, and around the world.  Signed copies are available at Cannie D’s in Neversink, the Time and Valleys Museum Store in Grahamsville, The Little Store in Roscoe, on my website and from rhyolitepress.com. Regular copies are available at Amazon, or your favorite bookstore as an eBook on Kindle, or Apple’s iPad, iPod, iPhone or your  in local library’s eBook section.  Next week: the Edgar’s.  Have a pleasant week . . .it’s time for summer reading fun.  Don’t get left behind, start reading a book today!  See you next week.

                                                                                    –JDM