Beluga Review
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It took me approximately one paragraph of Rick Gavinís hilarious first novel, Ranchero, to become a devoted fan. So itís a relief to see Nick and Desmond, Gavinís delightful Delta duo, up to more of the same outrageous antics in the fun-filled follow-up, Beluga.

Beluga follows ex-cop Nick Reid and his good friend, Desmond, on another adventure through the Mississippi Delta. After coming into a fair share of cash at the end of Ranchero, Nick and Desmond are looking to make some wise investmentsóand Desmondís ex-brother-in-law, Larry, is convinced that his plan to steal a truckload of already-stolen tires and resell them is a no-brainer.

Right from the beginning, Nick knows that they wonít make any money off the deal. After all, Larry is a hapless idiot who spent a recent sentence in Parchman prison applying to have his name legally changed to Beluga LaMonte. But Desmondís ex-wife gives them no choiceóand itís not long before they once again find themselves face-to-face with a variety of Delta neíer-do-wells.

Admittedly, the story behind Beluga isnít particularly memorable. Nick and Desmond end up on another crazy adventure that finds them battling a ninja schoolgirl assassin and a family of rednecks with way too many teeth. They try to keep Beluga and his friend, Skeeter, out of danger while evading (and sometimes escaping) arrest. And, along the way, Nick finds himself falling for a pretty young cop who canít help but notice that his various dealings tend to get him in a whole lot of trouble. But how it all fits together? Well, that doesnít really matter. What matters is that Nick and Desmondís latest madcap caper is absolutely, wildly entertaining.

Of course, there is actually a method to all of the madness. And, if you stop and think about it, it actually makes sense. But while you might sometimes lose track of the big picture, in the end, you wonít really careóbecause youíll be having way too much fun.

Gavin writes with a style thatís distinctly his own. Youíll hear Nickís voice in your head as you read, and youíll practically see the quirky characters of the Mississippi Delta grinning back at you from their place on the page. Thanks to the characters, their language, and Gavinís detailed descriptions, this fascinating Southern setting will become so clear that the action will play out in your mindís eye like a classic caper comedy (complete with a Dukes of Hazzard score).

If you havenít met Nick and Desmond yet, donít wait any longer! Gavinís eccentric characters and his down-south Delta style make his novels required reading. I recommend starting with Ranchero, but be sure to pick up a copy of Beluga at the same timeóbecause once you finish one, you wonít want to wait to start the other.

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