Ranchero Review
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Usually, when you start reading a book, it takes a while to get a feel for the main character. You often need to read a chapter or two before he or she really jumps off the page. But that’s not the case in author Rick Gavin’s distinctive crime thriller debut, Ranchero. Its eccentric hero climbs right out of the first line to lead readers on one raucous adventure.

What starts out as a routine job for repo man Nick Reid quickly turns into a less-than-routine situation when his delinquent client chooses not to hand over his television. Instead, he hits Nick on the head with a fireplace shovel, ties him up, and races away with his wife and son—and the TV.

Under normal circumstances, Nick wouldn’t care all that much about one little television. But it just happens to be speeding away in the calypso coral 1969 Ranchero that once belonged to his landlady’s late husband. When Nick borrowed the car, he promised to return it—and he has no intention of breaking his promise.

Squeezed into an old Geo Metro, Nick and his best friend, Desmond, head out into the heart of the Mississippi Delta to retrieve the Ranchero. They’re soon joined by a drug dealer, a couple of swamp rats, and other quirky characters on their quest to track down the ruthless drug lord who’s claimed the car as his own.

Creative writing teachers always stress the importance of grabbing readers with the very first lines of a story. Obviously, Rick Gavin wasn’t nodding off during that particular lecture—because this hilarious buddy road trip crime thriller is told in the kind of irresistibly distinctive voice that will seize you from the very first paragraph and hold your attention through the end of the very last line, only to leave you wanting even more.

The story is gritty and violent, written with an outrageous sense of humor. Meanwhile, the Mississippi Delta setting—with its deserted towns and secluded swamps—gives the story an oddly alluring backdrop. But it’s the characters who make Ranchero such a remarkable read.

From former lawman Nick and his Sonic-loving pal, Desmond, to the various losers and low-lifes who join them on their journey, the characters in Ranchero are absolutely unforgettable. They’re bizarre and comical and sometimes downright disturbing—but each and every one is just as intriguing as the story’s Delta setting. Nick and Desmond are the kind of characters that readers will happily follow on one adventure after another—so it’s a good thing that this is just the first installment in a new crime series.

If you love Tim Dorsey’s madcap adventures through Florida, don’t even think about missing this extraordinary new voice in wild and crazy crime fiction. By the time you finish the first chapter, you’ll have found a new favorite author.

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