June 4, 2011


Gar Anthony Haywood must have grown tired of his Aaron Gunner series, for in his seventh novel, the detective is a wife and mother. The narrator and central character of the humorous Going Nowhere Fast (ISBN: 0-399-13917-6) is 53 year Dottie Loudermilk. She and her 52 year old ex-policeman husband Joe retired, sold their home, bought an Airstream trailer home, and hit the open road.

Although they did not invite him, Bad Dog, nee Theodore, the youngest of their five grown children and the black sheep of the family is with them when they begin their journey. He wants them to give him money to get to Pittsburg where a trainer for the Oakland Raiders, he alleges, will give him a job.

When they reach the Grand Canyon, they think they have lost him at the last stop. Returning to the Airstream after their morning run, two unpleasant surprises that will keep them from “going nowhere fast” greet them.

Bad Dog followed them and is hiding in the closet with a gun.
In the toilet sitting on the seat is a dead man.

The investigating park rangers turn the case over to the police in Flagstaff. The Flagstaff police arrest a man caught driving the dead man’s car, and he immediately becomes the main suspect.

The FBI take over the case and warn Dottie not to interfere. Of course  curious Dottie ignores the warning because she wants to know who the man on the toilet is, who killed him, and why the FBI is involved. She feels the police have the wrong man in custody. Her curiosity leads her, Joe, and Bad Dog on a dangerous adventure in which she will confront two hitmen, the football player who is chasing Bad Dog, and a menacing mobster in the Federal Witness Protection program.

In the subplot, Bad Dog doesn’t tell his parents that he had a job with the Raiders looking after their star defensive end. He was supposed to keep him out of trouble, but, thinking he could do it better if he got him away from his friends and teammates, he took him to a place Bad Dog frequented, and they both got drunk. The player was suspended and find $1,000. Bad Dog must pay the fine or suffer a few broken bones.

In stories in which husband and wife work together, the wife wins most of the arguments. Dottie Loudermilk is no exception. She has a way of persuading Joe to do what she wants without him realizing he has lost the argument. She wants to return to Flagstaff to visit the dead man’s widow but Joe wants to heed the FBI’s warning and not meddle in the mess.

"’Dottie, for God's sake-‘ Joe sighed.”
"’If you don't want to go, we won't go. I won't say another word. But San Antonio, Texas-or, worse yet, New Orleans, Louisiana-is hundreds of miles away from Flagstaff, Arizona, Joseph Loudermilk the Second-and that's an awful long way to go without hearing the sound of another human voice. Isn't it?’"

“I smiled and dug into my salad again.

“A half hour later, Joe made a right turn out of the res­taurant parking lot instead of a left, and another page was written in the Dottie Loudermilk Handbook of Shameless Bluffing.”

She also has a way with words. Her description of the football player: “I was standing directly in front of him, my neck turned up at a ninety-degree angle so that I might see his face. It was like trying to spot the heliport atop the World Trade Center from down on the street”

The Loudermilks are two Senior citizens who do not go gently into the good night upon retirement, and that is why I like Going Nowhere Fast. Bad Dog and the football player provide misdirection, humor and Deus ex Machina. The Deus ex Machina is not a surprise or distracting because it is well prepared for. The ending is one hell of a surprise.