by Jerry Smith
Whirlaway/Whitehorse Press, 1998
223 pages, soft bound; $14.95
Book review by Victor Wanchena
The dirt flat-tracks of America are the scene of many high tension dramas. Racers pitch their machines sideways at speeds beyond 100 mph and jockey for position mere inches from each other. This atmosphere is the backdrop for the newest novel from Jerry Smith, Hotshoe.
This is the second book by Smith to feature Jason Street, a fictional journalist for slightly fictional Motorcycle Monthly, who has the misfortune to always find trouble–or in some cases have trouble find him.
In Hotshoe, Street finds himself implicated in the suicide of a former dirt track champion and owner of Case Tires, Sherm Case. Things are looking grim for our hero, his job is on the line and he and his girlfriend are headed for a breakup. But his luck changes when he is hired by Case’s daughter to prove that Sherm’s death wasn’t suicide, but really murder.
Jason takes to the road, traveling coast-to-coast with a hot new flat track racer and his gritty tuner. His country wide search for the killer takes him from the county fair short tracks to the big mile tracks of the national circuit. Along the way Jason makes some new friends, some new enemies, and may find out a little to much.
In the small niche of motorcycle fiction there is little to compare this book to, but as a murder mystery Hotshoe is a fine book. Combining the most of the elements of a classic hard boiled detective mystery with excitement of modern flat track racing to give the reader a nice read. The plot is well thought out and is not as predictable as I initially believed. Like any series of mystery novels, I find it hard to believe that one person can get into so much trouble, I suppose I just have a problem with a suspension of disbelief. Yet, this still is a fun book for those enjoy light fiction on their bus ride to work or while lounging in their garage.