MYSTERY

Scavenger

Three Rooms Press. Oct. 2020. 356p. ISBN 9781941110942. pap. $16. M
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Richard “Dickie” Cornish came from a good home, attended college, and served in the Air Force, yet somehow ended up homeless, addicted to drugs and living in a makeshift tent in Washington, DC. He makes money by scavenging and clearing out the apartments of evicted tenants. In one such endeavor, he comes in contact with Jaime Bracht, a corrupt ex-head of Homeland Security. Bracht convinces Dickie to take experimental drugs to counter his addictions and use his street smarts and contacts to find Dickie’s ex-girlfriend, Esmerelda (Esme), while earning some decent dollars for his work. As Dickie talks to his sources, he hears outrageous stories about Esme, ISIS, ICE and the stolen babies of detained illegals. He begins to wonder what Bracht, a high-powered white man, wants with whacked-out Esme, who reads tarot cards and dispenses Mayan magic.
VERDICT Dickie’s transformation from addict to totally logical “operative” is one of several implausible plot points. While the use of street vernacular in dialog is reasonable, its use in narrative, as well as overzealous use of italicized Spanish, makes the story difficult to understand. The characters are not fleshed out and the action, at times, is comical.

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