In this debut novel inspired by true events, a former New Orleans police officer recalls his life on the job and his times at a neighborhood bar with his buddies.
In the 1970s and ’80s, David McAllister and his “little band of misfits” hang out at the eponymous bar, located in the Gentilly Terrace area of New Orleans. They include the bartender Barry Christopher, and childhood friends, including the voluptuous Gertie Chauvin, for whom McAllister has an unrequited love; the ingratiating Ron; Greg, who’s usually the butt of his friends’ jokes; beer-bellied and pompadoured Jerry; and a guy known only as “the Satisfier,” who repairs cars. The author weaves vignettes and character sketches set in the Dreux Club with scenes from David’s life on the police force, which have its own cast of “colorful characters”: “We had every kind of cop imaginable. There were big tough ones, skinny geeky ones, old ones, young ones, smart ones, dumb ones, eager ones, and lazy ones. They ran the gamut.” Fenner, who writes that he was “inspired by experiences and memories of my time on the New Orleans Police Department,” clearly amassed a large cache of stories over the course of his career, and he captures the camaraderie that binds David to his friends and fellow officers. This is humorously expressed through the pranks that they play on one another, such as a bang-up gag that David plays on his training officer during a search for an explosive. (This novel’s overall positive portrayal of the police will appeal especially to fellow members of the brotherhood.) Some of the characterization grace notes are quietly moving, as when Barry confesses his difficulty with the concept of God: “I can’t visualize him,” he remarks. “The visual part is important to me.” Other themes are underdeveloped, though, as when David notes, “People close to me told me from time to time that my attitude was changing, that I was becoming cynical….Was it the job changing me? Or was I just becoming more aware of how the world really was?”
An often engaging tale that evokes a universal, old-gang-of-mine sense of nostalgia.