I'm becoming quite well-acquainted with Jim Morris's work. That's how I know that this novel is off the beaten path for him. At least the beaten path so far. Like Bob Dylan, it is so free-wheeling that I'm inspired to wax poetic:
Spurlock is a shrewd dude who meditates in the nude, to put him in the mood to deal with the rude and the crude, who need adjustment of attitude. He lives in a time when the US is screwed. And he likes wacky tobaccy better than food. Though Morris is hardly a prude, his prose is a far cry from lewd.
I should have been a beatnik. Or a hip-hop gangsta.
Okay, let me expound a bit without putting it into rap lyrics. (Don't worry--there is no infantile rhyming in this book.)
Morris has set this tale in an alternate reality. I'm a bit fuzzy on the historic details that led to the scenario, but the gist of it is: 1. The Ruskies won a war with the USA, and now occupy the continent. 2. The occupational army runs the economy by proxy; and that proxy is the Mafia. And you get the idea that of the two organizations, the Mafia is the more powerful. 3. There was an armed resistance to the invasion. Most of them were assimilated back into the culture, like Spurlock. The "guerrillas" remain in rural areas, operating like a minor-league (and redneck) Mafia. They are murderers, rapists and borderline psychopaths who don't even understand what it is they think they're fighting for. 4. Purgatory is such a backwater that it has been left alone since the war was lost.
Sheriff Spurlock runs his county (and his personal life) with a mixture of streetwise savvy and a Zen-like quest for balance and harmony. He has an agreement with the local guerrilla leader which maintains the status quo, such as it is, with minimal conflict. That status quo is upset when a stuttering Mafia don comes to town with plans to absorb Purgatory into his fiefdom.
Shrewd dude that he is, Spurlock proposes a compromise with the Mafia that should keep everyone happy. But the don loses face during his visit, so Spurlock is screwed, clever compromises notwithstanding.
What follows is a road trip to the Big Apple by Spurlock and a practicing witch. There are some interesting misadventures along the way, then Spurlock locates and attempts to evacuate his estranged children from a New York very much like the one Snake Pliskin had to escape from.
This is an eccentric adventure tale laced with colorful characters, Eastern philosophy and social satire. There are some nice twists and detours along the way.
Personally, I've never experimented with marijuana, drugs or Eastern mysticism. Never had an interest in doing so even though I was born in the heyday of all that flower-power Summer of Love go-go stuff. But those who have lived a far less "straight edge" life than I have will probably feel right at home accompanying Sheriff Spurlock on this quest which is, at its core, pretty dang fun.