Done: Dove Season by Johnny Shaw, 2010, 9781935597643.
I read this during last week's vacation. This was good but I enjoyed the other Shaw book better. Black Mariah? Black Maria? Black Pariah? Jack For Hire-a? Something like that, look it up yourself because it is definitely worth your time.
Full-time drifter Jimmy Veeder has been going crappy job to crappy job ever since he left the Imperial Valley and graduated college. He has not seen his elderly father Jack in several years but they are still close with frequent phone calls and letters. Jimmy is further north in California when Jack informs Jimmy that Jack has cancer and is in hospice. Jimmy pulls up his very shallow roots and heads down to El Centro (I think. It's one of the small towns just north of the border and Mexicali.)
Jimmy hits the old farmstead - which is a mess - and visits his father. Jimmy is sad. Jack is resigned and relaxed. At one point Jack asks Jimmy to find him a Mexican prostitute named Yolanda. Jimmy already reconnected with high school pal Bobby and they head South of the Border to try and locate the woman. Jimmy's pseudo-kid brother from 15 years ago now runs a crime ring of sorts in Mexico and agrees to help Jimmy out.
Yolanda is found, comes to visit, stays at Jack's house with Jimmy and then spends a few hours with Jack at his hospice room. Yolanda goes back home. Jack dies. Yolanda shows up to the funeral. Jimmy gets blind drunk, wakes up in an irrigation ditch, and tries to take a shower. Damn, no water pressure. Jimmy checks the water cistern and finds a dead Yolanda floating at the bottom of the concrete cistern. Uh-oh. This is both sad and disgusting.
Cops are called. Cop is Bobby's girlfriend but has no leads and her supervisors are pressing her to list the death as another dead immigrant in the summer sun. Jimmy like Yolanda. Jimmy liked that Jack liked Yolanda. Jimmy is intent on finding Yolanda's relatives and letting them know what happened. He and Bobby head south again.
Things happen. Jimmy drinks too much and wonders what to do with his life. Bobby drinks too much but still keeps his fields in shape. Jimmy sparks things with an ex-girlfriend who is nursing at Jack's hospice. Pseudo-younger brother turns out to be pretty damn ruthless. Jimmy makes a bad enemy in Mexico. Shootings. Beatings. Car chases. Enthusiastic idiots. Some corruption. Desert life with Colorado River water. The guide of law rather than the rule of law.
A fun book.
1. About all I know of the southeast part of California I know from the Charlie Hood novels of T. Jefferson Parker.
2. Camper Van Beethoven wrote a couple desert songs. Not sure if any were set in the El Centro area.
3. Big Maria. That other novel is Big Maria. There is also another novel with Jimmy Veeder.