A former car salesman retreats to Mexico after a near-death experience and finds that the violence he tried to escape has followed him.
Nick Lutz, the salesman, gets a bullet in the head from a customer trying to hijack a car. Later, a driving accident caused by his injuries leaves his young son seriously injured. In short order Nick finds he's lost his family, his marriage, his job. Heading to Mexico, he leads the life of a middle-aged surf bum along with his buddy Winsor. But Winsor turns out to be no one to be friends with and winds up dead when his girlfriend tries to prevent him from abusing one of her sons. Nick becomes party to hiding the body and, to complicate matters even further, gets involved with Winsor's girl and her two boys. The narrative here isn't quite noir and isn't quite straight drama, and it certainly lacks a sense of humor. The sense of midlife resignation is present from the start rather than earned by the proceedings. But the story is a good one, with adult emotions and the appeal of a flawed man trying to use his experience and what little he can claim in the way of wisdom to protect vulnerable people from the hurt that's been inflicted on them. And if the final narrative twists risk convenience, they are nonetheless emotionally satisfying.
This novel lacks some essential bit of pleasure but it's still an affecting read.