by Bill Beverly
Crime Thriller Hound Book of 2016, Dodgers is a dark, wonderfully well-written novel that opens with a team of lookouts, runners and enforcers on the perimeter of a drug house during a police raid that has deadly consequences. ‘Standing yard’ was East, one of the teenage LA gang members, who, following the incident, is sent by his boss/uncle to kill a key witness before he gets chance to testify. Along with the other young African-Americans, East heads out on a road trip to Wisconsin where the witness is hiding.
Like The Wire on tour, and clearly influenced by Price's Clockers. The characters are conflicted and memorable, the story is told with insight and humour, and the study of modern America is compelling, but that writing - wonderful - packed with killer lines and observations. Literary fiction straight out the top draw.
About Bill Beverly:
Bill Beverly was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He studied literature and writing at Oberlin College, including time in London studying theatre and the Industrial Revolution. He then studied fiction and pursued a Ph.D. in American literature at the University of Florida. His research on criminal fugitives and the stories surrounding them became the book On the Lam: Narratives of Flight in J. Edgar Hoover’s America. He now teaches American literature and writing at Trinity University in Washington D.C. and lives with his wife, the poet and writer Deborah Ager, and their daughter Olive, in Hyattsville, Maryland. He collects beer cans. Dodgers is his debut novel.
When East, a low-level lookout for a Los Angeles drug organisation, loses his watch house in a police raid, his boss recruits him for a very different job: a road trip - straight down the middle of white, rural America - to assassinate a judge in Wisconsin.
Having no choice, East and a crew of untested boys - including his trigger-happy younger brother, Ty - leave the only home they've ever known in a nondescript blue van, with a roll of cash, a map and a gun they shouldn't have.
Along the way, the country surprises East. The blood on his hands isn't the blood he expects. And he reaches places where only he can decide which way to go - or which person to become.