Guilty Pleasure in a Guilty Pleasure

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, May 1, 2018, 1:25 p.m.

Green Goes Forth. The protagonist and narrator is a guy named Joe Green. He grows “green,” which is one of many code words and synonyms for cannabis. No need to write a paragraph of them. The title is a double entendre.

By Monte Dutton

Appropriately, Green Goes Forth is a relaxed thriller. Green has quite the adventure, taking it as it comes. Not much bothers him.

The strangest coincidence sets it off. Green, a very close to innocent bystander, sneezes in a phone conversation that is being monitored by the FBI. This implicates him with criminals and makes him sought after to rat his uncle out.

He has to bolt. He has to go undercover. The feds definitely want him, and the mobsters might. Green has to give up a college degree and the comfort zone of home in Washington, D.C., a girlfriend and a dog. He particularly misses the dog.

An old compadre takes him in. He arrives in Wine Country. It’s also Weed Country. It’s the late 1970s. They went hand in hand, then as now. Reagan intervened in between. By the way, it’s fun for the reader to compare that time to this.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

If the reader accepts one premise – not only is pot not that bad; it’s good – then Bob Gilbert’s novel is damned near inspirational. Most of the characters are pleasant. Most of the bad guys aren’t so bad. No guilt or remorse is involved when Joe goes into the illegal pot business with his buddy. A man’s got to make a living, even when he’s in hiding.

The cops don’t go after them that hard. They come to terms with the rival dealer. With hard work and a few precautions, they don’t veer too near disaster, though the reader anticipates its approach a few times.

Joe makes his fortune in the Golden State and feels the lure of home. While out west, Joe becomes quite a bit more learned. He develops an understanding of literature he could barely fathom back east. Yet he returns there when the criminal heat subsides, carrying a bunch of cash and a general plan to distribute his Ghani Purp strain to the consumers in Our Nation’s Capitol.

He enters political society, finding the Republicans as likely as the Democrats to value his product. Then Joe opens his own used-book store, having developed a taste for the finer words of art.

Everything gonna be all right.

Green Goes Forth is a quick, casual read, though I didn’t read it quickly because I was immersed in my own writing. It whets the reader’s appetite without keeping him or her up until 3 a.m. It’s a tale to pick up when one’s favorite team is either well ahead or way behind. It’s useful to read a chapter on the phone while a dinner order is being prepared at a restaurant. I hesitate to call it “a beach read” only because that term has become maddeningly cliched.

I’m casually looking forward to another Bob Gilbert yarn about Joe Green.

(Steven Novak cover)

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which are available for sale here.

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

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