A debut novel follows a new doctor in a small town and the many surprises he encounters.
The reader first meets Dr. Larry Martin as he arrives in Green Meadows (“The town seemed deserted as he slowly drove down the main street. Even the few neon signs seemed lifeless except for one that appeared to be dying”). Green Meadows, a place where the local police make their money from speeding tickets, and the movie theater shows “mainly cowboy movies or teen age parties on beaches,” is clearly a small pond for a big fish like Larry. A former officer in the Army Special Forces and a classical music fan, Larry finds himself shooting pool and attending high school basketball games for fun. A doctor with a job to do, he nevertheless sets about practicing his profession in earnest. Encountering situations that include corrupt officials and the rape of an elderly woman by her mentally challenged son, Larry faces multiple obstacles. This is especially the case as he learns of the town’s entrenched drug problem. Meanwhile, a drug smuggler named Pedro Martinez seeks to find a new way to import his products to the United States. In Curaçao, Pedro happens upon an American manufacturer of caskets. Could he have found a new vehicle for his trade? What will this end up meaning for Larry? Incorporating a barrage of characters that includes a moonshine-loving orphan and a former Navy pilot, the story manages a bizarre array of people and events. While the novel is at its best when describing Larry’s adventures in his adopted town, later portions involving the drug trade can be overblown. Pedro, a sinister cliché, proves no more nuanced than the equally dull bad guys back in Green Meadows. These are men who see fit to point out that “the drug business is one of the most profitable ones in the country.” Passages that dig deeply into details, like the specifics of an aircraft (“This has to be the only C-46 in the world still flying,” the former Navy pilot says of a plane), provide memorable moments. But they can become lost in flimsy instances of forgettable characterizations.
A wild and bumpy ride, this tale delivers a strange collision of small-town America with the international drug trade.