Hime’s thriller gives readers more than an inkling of larger-than-life Texas charm. Edgy but filled with humor, the characters are animated and believable: a cast of exaggerated characters who perfectly fit a locale that sports cowboy boots, ranches and family values. There is no shortage of eccentric personalities. In fact, this thriller is rife with unusual and quirky - sometimes quite sinister - people.
Ex-Texas ranger Jeremiah Spurs is the main protagonist, the man who puts together the random pieces of a complex and sophisticated tale that begins with the disappearance of curmudgeonly restaurateur Sylvester Bradshaw. Known for the excellent taste of the catfish at his restaurant, Sylvester owes his success to his invention, a highly secret contraption that removes impurities from the notorious bottom-feeder.
Surely Bradshaw is on to something. He has made tentative contacts to expand the business but has made no firm commitments. Though unscrupulous men would like a piece of the action, Sylvester is hardly known for his gentle nature or calm reaction to stress. Jeremiah has no need to get involved, preoccupied with the health of his wife, Martha, who has been hospitalized with an E. coli infection. But when Bradshaw’s daughter, Karen, requests his help in finding her father, Spurs is inclined to do the distraught young lady a favor.
Hime, who writes his characters as though he is personally acquainted with them, provides a long list of unusual folks, heroes and villains: an ex-jock toaster-oven spokesman, Tyrone Daniels (Big Ty), and his obstreperous football-hero son, Little Ty; Isaac Daniels, the less notorious son who is trying to expand his father’s marketability and sees Sylvester’s invention as a golden opportunity; and Sheriff Dewey, whose personal life is affecting his professional viability since rumors have leaked about his problems with “reproductive hydraulics.”
Then there are Bradshaw’s sons to consider, who yearn for success but are hampered by their father’s business paranoia; and a kindly old doctor treating Martha’s illness who has trouble of late even remembering his patient’s names. There are lawyers, a conscientious private investigator just trying to make a living in a tough economy, bumbling deputies, and no end of locals who ruminate on Sheriff Dewey’s private troubles and the state of their little corner of a big state.
With great humor and compassion, Hime has constructed a tale that is as compelling as it is clever. Among the good old boys are enough bad apples to drive a novel that exposes environmental concerns and the complexity of human motivations when there is profit to be made. From venture capitalists to former NFL stars to local ranchers and small businessmen, Brenham, Texas, comes to life, pitch-perfect and a delight to read.