When I finally read the first of Gar Anthony Haywood’s Joe and Dottie Loudermilk series this year, I wanted to try to get back to the second before the year was over. It’s only two books, so it would mean I could start and finish the series. It was a great goal this year since I really enjoyed Bad News Travels Fast.
Joe and Dottie are a retired couple who sold everything and are enjoying life in an RV. One of the reasons they did that is to get away from their kids, who are nothing but trouble. Joe has long wanted to visit Washington DC, and that’s their next destination. Dottie happens to know that their son, Eddie, is in town, and she sets up a dinner for their first night in town. She figures one dinner can’t be that bad, right?
Turns out she is wrong. At some point after dinner that night, Eddie’s former roommate is killed at a bar with Eddie’s knife after Eddie had a very public fight with him. The police are quick to arrest Eddie, which makes sense based on the evidence, but Dottie is sure her son is innocent. So instead of touring all the sites in town, Dottie and Joe spend their time roaming DC trying to figure out what really happening. Can they clear him?
These books were originally released in the 1990’s. This time around, I read the ebook version that was put out a few years back. There was a brief introduction that pointed out the time period when the book is set before we get into the action. After all, without cell phones or the internet, this book unfolds very differently than it would today.
And what unfolds is wonderful. This book is a little shorter than many books I read, but there is not a wasted word. We still get plenty of twists and turns along the way, and there are enough suspects to keep us guessing.
The characters are sharp as well. In the first book, I felt Joe’s temper got to be a bit too much at times. Here, he still has a temper, but it is kept in check and we get to see other sides of his personality. Dottie is our narrator, and she is a fantastic character. The rest of the cast are distinct and help pull us into the story, making us care about the outcome as the wild ride unfolds around us.
With a theme of travel, it isn’t a surprise that we get to see a few of the sites of DC along with the characters. Each time, there was a scene important to the plot taking place at that location. I still haven’t gotten to spend much time in the capital, so this made me want to visit again and really play tourist for a week or so.
All of this is mixed together with a healthy dose of humor. I laughed multiple times at one of Dottie’s observations or the circumstances that Joe and Dottie found themselves in as I was reading the book.
As with the first book, there are a smattering of foul words spread throughout the book. I didn’t feel they were needed, but they are worth noting in passing.
I still have a couple short stories with these characters to read, and I’m looking forward to seeing where those adventures take them. If you’ve missed Bad News Travels Fast, I’ve got great news for you – you’ll enjoy this book.