Steven Lane Smith
Outskirts Press (2015)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (12/15)
“Salvation at Rio Feo” by Steven Lane Smith is a humorous take on one man’s journey to overcome adversity and make a name for himself against all odds.
The story opens in a town called Toxic Lick, Kentucky, where basketball reigns supreme. The “Cutters” of Kentucky Barber College find themselves in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history and Tommy Gunn leads the team straight through the tournament bracket and onto the championship game. March Madness is in full swing in Toxic Lick. Against his better judgment, and the advice of his sweetheart Lori, Tommy takes two bribes: one from an Italian bookie to win the game, and one from a Russian bookie to lose the game. Possessed with greed, Tommy reneges on both deals, steals all the money, and finds himself on the run from both the Italian and Russian mafias.
Tommy assumes the identity of a basketball coach who has recently passed, BJ Bates. Taking up residence in Rio Feo, New Mexico, Tommy (Coach Bates) builds a team out of nothing and claws his way back to the top, using whatever means necessary. It’s an uphill battle and Tommy could lose everything all over again, including Lori, if he doesn’t straighten up.
I enjoyed reading “Salvation at Rio Feo.” It is so far-fetched and out there, you can’t help but laugh your way through the entire book. The author brings the characters to life with their idiosyncrasies. I found Tommy’s grandfather, Pop, to be especially delightful with his “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy on life. The writing is fantastic, quirky, and very entertaining. Ever-changing plot twists keep the story fresh and I was eager to see how Tommy’s drama was all going to play out.
I highly recommend “Salvation at Rio Feo” by Steven Lane Smith to anyone that craves a light, witty, entertaining read, full of unpredictability, humor, and suspense.