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Imperial Valley: A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco


Imperial Valley: A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco

The cover legend “A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco” is a guarantee of good reading. IMPERIAL VALLEY, the third of author Johnny Shaw’s books to bear those words, is the best of the lot thus far.

Jimmy Veeder is a farmer in Imperial Valley, an impoverished area along the California-Mexico border. He lives, if you will, in the middle of the middle of nowhere, a geographical location that does not prevent him from finding trouble and vice versa. Part of the reason for this comes in the form of Bobby Maves, his lifelong friend. Think of Jimmy and Bobby as a kind of alcoholic Cheech and Chong, without the fried brains and with superior firepower. Bobby, though, is as loyal as they come, as is demonstrated throughout the series.

"[T]he chemistry between Jimmy and Angie, and Jimmy and Bobby, is the real star and charm of these books, and the humor that shoots through the prose makes coming back again and again worth the price of admission."

As IMPERIAL VALLEY begins, Jimmy is trying to put his hell-raising aside and make an attempt to settle down. His plans for taking some tentative steps in that direction include marrying Angie, the love of his life, and raising Juan, his son (who is also his half-brother). However, it is tough to do good when one of your childhood friends is all grown up and is the crime lord of the Mexican state of Mexicali. The friend, Tomás Morales, shows up on Jimmy and Angie’s special day bearing gifts and information. The gift is an all-expenses-paid honeymoon at a five-star vacation resort in Mexico. The information concerns Juan. Tomás has located Fernando Palomera, Juan’s grandfather. He is reputed to be living out his golden years as the mayor of a mountain village between Mazatlan and Durango. Jimmy decides to combine their honeymoon with duty, feeling the need to let Palomera know about the fate of his daughter and the existence of his grandson.

The honeymoon, for as long as it lasts, is wonderful for Jimmy and Angie, even when Bobby and his soulmate, Griselda, crash it. Things go bottoms up, however, when the obligation part of the trip kicks in. Palomera is a crime lord in the area and decides that he wants his newly discovered grandson back with him. Jimmy and Angie demur, of course, and what began as an idyllic honeymoon concludes with the quartet of friends and lovers fleeing Mexico for their lives, having endangered not only themselves but also Juan, who waits for them back home in Imperial Valley. Jimmy thinks that will be the end of the matter, but it’s wishful thinking.

And that is just Part One of IMPERIAL VALLEY. While the pacing of the book’s first half ebbs and flows a bit before going gonzo, Part Two begins with menace in the air and on the street. It’s not a question of whether trouble is coming, but rather a question of when. And come it does, in due course and repeatedly. Jimmy makes plans to cut off the trouble at its source, but not before Palomera launches an all-out effort to wipe Jimmy off the map and bring Juan to Mexico. The result is 40 pages or so of mayhem, which leaves many things changed and at least one popular character taken off of the radar. Some things, though, remain the same, for better and for worse.

IMPERIAL VALLEY is violent in spots and hilarious throughout, thanks in part to the half-maniacal and quietly dangerous Bobby Maves, who remains cool under fire while providing inappropriate repartee at the drop of a hat or the click of a hammer. I wouldn’t mind seeing Bobby get equal billing on the titles or, barring that, a series of his own. Still, the chemistry between Jimmy and Angie, and Jimmy and Bobby, is the real star and charm of these books, and the humor that shoots through the prose makes coming back again and again worth the price of admission. I’m hoping that this series, and these engaging characters, will be back for several more appearances in the future.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 10, 2017

Imperial Valley: A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco
by Johnny Shaw

  • Publication Date: March 7, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
  • ISBN-10: 1503941299
  • ISBN-13: 9781503941298