Johnny Shaw’s Dove Season is an entertaining series of mistakes, bravado, self-reflection and bad situations. Told through Jimmy Veeder (the center of the fiasco for which the story is named) the story ranges over family relations, friendships, confrontations with the past, sex, guns, money and secrets. Driven by a strong narrative, and escalating danger, what emerges is an entertaining but still touching story of a man who takes a winding path toward inner peace.
Jimmy Veeder left the Imperial Valley of California as soon as he could. Never went back. Until he found out his pop was dying. Soon. While the towns and people were familiar, there’s little feeling of comfort. Didn’t matter much, as time with his father is his only reason for being there. Oh, and a favor. A weird favor. He asks Jimmy to find a whore. A specific whore in Mexico.
The search reunites him with his best friend, and stirrer of shit, Bobby. Together they travel across the border to Mexicali, and find themselves in the world of whores, border crossing, pornography and an old friend who runs the show. Good intentions and bad decision lead to escalating problems that drive the men, and the women and friends in their lives, into danger.
In addition to the characters, the book also creates a compelling image of the dessert and towns of the Imperial Valley. Set in a desert where live seems to go on out of spite, the towns and the people act on Jimmy and inform and change his character. Where at first, we see the Valley from the outside, the reader is immersed in its rhythms and people as Jimmy is re-immersed into his old home.
Dove Season is a book for those who enjoy a good bit of action, a sprinkling of humor, and just enough introspection combined with emotional repression and macho preening. Hopefully this won’t be the last Jimmy Veeder fiasco.