By Dwaine Rieves
Jackson Beekman is a rising star in his home state of Georgia. Currently the attorney general, his sights are set on the Governor’s office. But nothing is free in this world, least of all politics. Jackson needs to hedge his bets, so he begins building his campaign team.
Dr. Jane Beekman, Jackson’s sister-in-law, is one of the handpicked circle he chooses for his team. She brings a personal agenda to the table. Politics are known for quid pro quo, and Jane is no exception. Her mother recently died a painful death due to her lifelong addiction to tobacco. She agrees to work for Jackson, and he agrees to push her agenda of raising the tax on tobacco as soon as he gets in office.
Jackson, like any human, has baggage. The problem with his is it is deep seated and hidden from almost everyone. His brother Price shares the sorrows and secrets of Jackson’s past. Price will keep the family secrets, but unbeknownst to the candidate, someone else from their past may come back to haunt Jackson.
The emotional roller coaster that the main characters ride is lightning fast. Jackson, Price and Jane are complex and complicated, their individual personalities jump from the pages and into the reader’s head.
The depth of this novel is coupled with an easy style that flows beautifully for the reader. It is hard to put this book in a box. It is fiction laced with facts, politics, social issues and human fallibility. The closest I can come to placing a label on Shirtless Men Drink Free is contemporary literary fiction. Contemporary due to the recurring theme of tobacco legislations and known health problems associated with it as well as social issues of today. I add the label “Literary” because Rieves’ beautiful use of the English language is evident throughout the book, but never pretentious.
If you only read one book this year that is not in your usual genre, I highly recommend this brilliant debut novel by Dwaine Rieves, Shirtless Men Drink Free. Read it for the human side of volatile issues that are hot topics in today’s headlines.
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman