On first picking up Dodgers (Crown, $26), local writer Bill Beverly’s excellent debut, you might think it’s a crime novel. I did. The general structure of the plot is hit-man road trip: teenagers in a minivan set out from Los Angeles to kill a judge for their drug-lord boss. There’s plenty of blood in the book, and lots of running and hiding. But really Dodgers is a Western in reverse. The protagonist, East, has never left LA before he’s dispatched on this hit. He’s never thought about what it might be like to go, well, east. As he roams around the frozen Midwest, he’s more interested in watching other people’s lives than in living his own—understandable, given his line of work. The best section of the novel is a lonely stretch East spends working at a paintball range, growing comfortable in an America very different from the one that used to be his. That comfort can’t last, of course. Dodgers isn’t that kind of book. East’s got to keep moving, discovering new terrain, and though the novel ends at an airport, it feels like he’s riding off into the sunset.
Dodgers - Bill Beverly