About Dinner at Deadman’s
Lorado Martin has loved junk since his grandparents took him bottle digging in the backwoods of New England when he was a boy. The search for antiques and collectibles led him to a unique hobby: digging through the estates of the newly deceased, arranging the sale of goods for the heirs, and keeping the leftovers for himself.
To make a living he builds and maintains housing for recovering addicts and along the way he’s employed a number of his clients. The men wrestle with the siren call of drugs and teach Lorado about the difficult struggle to stay clean one day at a time.
When these two worlds come together, Lorado learns that not every elderly person dies of natural causes and that some estates are sold to benefit a killer. His latest project hits close to home. A woman he’s known since childhood haunts him from a fresh grave. Her grandson, an affable addict who has fallen off the wagon, stands to inherit a considerable sum whether he deserves it or not.
C.J. West unfolds this mystery slowly and carefully for the reader all while introducing an interesting cast of characters – most notably the main Character, Lorado. While most characters in this novel have unique personalities complete with quirks and flaws, Lorado really stands out. Perhaps it’s because he is a “three hundred twenty pound guy in the cowboy hat in New England “.
I appreciated that C.J. West worked a real charity into his book – GiftstoGive and took the time to research the lifestyles portrayed down to every gritty detail.
I found it interesting the way some of the major characters revealed character flaws that were so true to life and added depth to their characterisation. Lorado, for example, refurbishes rundown buildings in the “bad” side of town to be used for subsidised housing, halfway houses and hiring reformed drug addicts. He constantly shares his views that it is all a lost cause, and he is only giving to those who take and take.
Angel, another character out to help society’s downtrodden after the death of his own son, is also revealed to struggle with a major duality in nature when Lorado finds him with a prostitute. The same type of person Angel strives to help.
When it comes to plot, I had an idea as to what was going on but it took Lorado until the last few chapters to catch on. We are taken down several dead ends including Lorado accusing vengeful drug dealer and pimp of murder, making enemies of the police and more before the mystery is solved.
I did have one single issue with this book and that is that the women are all characterised by bra size rather than personality. Should Lorado return I’d love to see Roxie take a bigger role, and her character rounded out further. As a woman I’d have been interested to see her do something outside of sex, cooking and cleaning.
C.J. West is the author of seven suspense novels including The End of Marking Time and Sin and Vengeance, which was optioned into development for film by Beantown Productions, LLC (screenplay by Marla Cukor).