Beset by ghosts, cops, and a nasty tornado, a bank robber and a drifter meet by chance in a picaresque cross-country road trip.
Seventeen-year-old Umberto Santana thinks he’s just pulled off a perfect $300,000 robbery of a Boca Raton bank when he hops on his Honda and flees west. Simultaneously, enigmatic almost-middle-aged Mercury Gant, a former limo driver living on the outskirts of town, wraps himself in a leather Australian cattle-drover’s coat and zooms off on his own motorcycle, a BMW, fleeing from tormenting memories of a double-suicide that might have resulted from an affair he had with a female passenger. Meanwhile, Audrey, a blind, telepathic girl living with her grandmother in a Washington state fishing town wonders whether she’ll ever find her parents. En route, Santana learns that the woman who had a heart attack and died during his robbery was a US senator and that manic, macho FBI Special Agent Eagle Cooper is on his tail. Gant imagines seeing his former lover in impossible places—proof, a fairground fortune-teller informs him, that he’s beset by restless spirits. Shortly after their paths cross, Santana and Gant survive a wild ride in a whirling tornado, a homicidal trucker, a hissing rattlesnake and other over-the-top roadside emergencies, eventually coming to terms with the fate, and the women, awaiting them at the end of their long quest—one that ends with justice and spiritual destiny triumphing in unexpected ways. As Barry Gifford does in his epic Grand Guignol odysseys, first-novelist Rosenfeld paces the long miles between plot twists with garish, violent, and frequently amusing set-pieces about lust and aspirations of numerous minor players, from Santana’s pregnant lover Graciela to Agent Cooper’s randy car-collecting mistress Suzanne.
Awkward analogies (“clouds gathered like councilmen”) and a tendency to indicate Hispanic speakers by substituting “ju” for “you” (“ju kiddin’ me?” etc.) are minor distractions in a zesty, comic, high-speed American gothic.