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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Crazy Ride Through the Mississippi Delta: Ranchero by Rick Gavin.

Folks, it's Wednesday.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the U.S., and for many of us it is the first day of a four-day weekend.  Set aside thoughts of  turkey and shopping right now and ask yourself an important question:  Do you have a good book to read?

A good book is essential for long weekends.  It's a place to retreat to, a place to hide in, a place to happily pass the time while waiting for the next activity to begin.  If you need something to read and would like something breezy and entertaining, then pick-up or download a copy of  Ranchero by Rick Gavin.

Ranchero is set in the Mississippi Delta, which has been called "the most Southern place on Earth."   The protagonist, Nick Reid, is a new resident of the area.  He previously worked as a police officer all over the mid-South (Nick's key rules: "Never tangle with an irate teenage girl if you can help it at all; and thumbs might be opposable, but they weren't meant to get bent back.").  Now he is doing some repossession work.

The story begins with Nick attempting to repossess a flat-screen t.v. from Percy Dwayne Dubois.  He ends up getting laid-out with a fireplace shovel and tied-up.  When Nick recovers from the beating, Dubois is gone, along with the t.v. and Nick's car:  a mint, calypso-coral Ranchero he borrowed from his widowed landlady.  Nick is determined to get the car back, and this mission sends him on a wild ride through the shady side of the Delta.

With the help of his friend, fellow repo man and guide to the region, Desmond, Rick concludes that the car has come into the hands of an area psychopath and meth dealer named Guy.  Rick sets his sights on tracking down Guy, with the assistance of a group of quirky characters he picks up on the way.

Although Ranchero is a light novel, many of the characters are bitterly poor, drug addicted, mean, or just plain sad.  Author Rick Gavin doesn't hide the problems of the Mississippi Delta, an area with a history of old problems - racism and poverty - and new problems such as obesity.  Gavin lays out all of this.  The book works in part because while Gavin's Nick Reid may have some wry observations about folks, he treats them all with dignity and fairness - even Percy Dwayne Dubois.

Ranchero is recommended reading.


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