Shirtless Men Drink Free by Dwaine Rieves

Shirtless Men Drink Free by Dwaine Rieves
Publisher: Tupelo Press (Leapfolio)
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (328 pages)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

In a vision above her mother’s deathbed, Doctor Jane Beekman sees her dying mother’s soul–a soul struggling with a decision, some undone task, something in this world too noble to leave. The sight was brief, but surely a lesson. The lingering question–Why?–prompts a shift in the doctor’s priorities.

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Set amidst 2004’s polarizing election fears–immigrants and job takeovers, terrorists in waiting, the homosexual and outsider agendas–Shirtless Men Drink Free makes vivid the human soul’s struggle in a world bedeviled by desire and the fears that leave us all asking–Why?

Shirtless Men Drink Free is a beautifully-written story, a tale with depth that happens to also be edgy. The setting is Georgia of the near past, in a world of politics and medicine. Only vividly-drawn characters such as Dwaine Rieves has written could do justice to this novel. The time and place come alive under the skilled hand of this writer.

Momentum picks up at an even pace as readers follow a politician and his family on their journey through an election. These characters are complex. They are endearing, but some of them prove to be all too human. Mistakes are made, and this only adds layers to their personalities and the story itself. Readers are likely to take sides, while feeling regret over the decisions that certain characters make due to their relationship with others whom we can really root for. Somebody is going to have to lose. Who will it be, and at what price? The writer has done well in inspiring compassion.

The fascinating story moves right along to an unforeseen ending, where the pace is quick, but not rushed. The emotional conclusion will have readers thinking about important values while immersing them in an unforgettable story. After the last page is turned, readers are likely to not only remember the events between these pages but also the well-developed characters and have food for thought.

Those who enjoy a modern story with a touch of mystery, just a dab of the paranormal, and complicated characters, set amongst political complications, will probably like this book.

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