Friday, May 15, 2020

Book Review: Going Nowhere Fast by Gar Anthony Haywood (Joe and Dottie Loudermilk #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Intriguing plot; fun set up
Cons: A couple of the characters are more annoying than fun
The Bottom Line:
Unexpected corpse
Derails traveling couple
Twisty plot is fun

Corpse in the Airstream Bathroom

When I finished Leave No Footprints (which I reviewed Wednesday), I wasn’t quite ready to leave the National Parks.  Fortunately, I’d just been digging through the books in my condo and found Going Nowhere Fast by Gar Anthony Haywood.  It proved to be just the mystery I needed.

Joe and Dottie Loudermilk have turned in a traditional retirement for life on the road.  When Joe retired from his career as a police officer in Los Angeles, the couple bought an Airstream trailer and hit the road, going wherever they felt like.  An additional bonus has been the fact that they are not bothered by their grown kids who can’t quite seem to function as adults.

The couple are currently enjoying the Grand Canyon.  However, when they return from a run one morning, it’s to find that their youngest son has found them.  But that’s not the biggest surprise – there’s a dead body in their trailer’s bathroom.  Joe and Dottie certainly don’t recognize the corpse, and their son says he doesn’t recognize him either.  But he’s lying about something.  What is he hiding?  Does it have to do with the murder?

Before going any further, I should point out that this book was originally published in the mid-90’s, and I’ve had the book sitting on my shelves for over a decade.  I point this out because, even though the 90’s aren’t that long ago, it really is a different time.  For example, no one has cell phones, and they use this thing called a pay phone.  Weird, right?  The book is currently available as an ebook, and I don’t know if it has been updated at all.  Just be prepared for the trip back in time, and you’ll be fine.

Since I grew up camping in trailers, I immediately identified with Joe and Dottie.  In fact, part of me finds their life very appealing.  Of course, there’s the whole murder thing, which I wouldn’t want to find myself part of in real life, but that part intrigued me here.  I couldn’t wait to see what was going on and how they’d figure it out.  Joe may be the retired cop, but Dottie is really the one who drives the investigation here.  She does a good job of gathering clues and piecing things together while dealing with some twists I didn’t see coming.  The plotting here is excellent.

The characters, on the other hand, could have been a little better.  Joe seems to be constantly grumbling or complaining about something to the point where he’s often angry.  I’m sure it was supposed to come across as humorous, but I found it off putting.  Their son was an idiot, but I still found him amusing at times.  Neither character is so bad that I am sorry I read the book, but I wanted to like them more than I did.  Dottie, as narrator, is the most normal of the bunch, and I certainly did like her.  The rest of the cast are interesting and do their job of keeping us confused as to what is really going on.

I’m glad I finally picked up Going Nowhere Fast.  If you are looking for an offbeat mystery that will hook you until the end, this is the trip for you.

This is part of Friday's Forgotten Books.

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