Book Review: Shakedown Beach (Mystery/Suspense)
I recently completed, “Shakedown Beach,” by Eric Dezenhall, a suspense/mystery situated in the overlooked deep South of New Jersey (yes, it’s actually below the Mason-Dixon line way down there). I am working my way through the mysteries in my local library whose authors’ last names start with “D,” and stumbled across this book.
All things iconic about southern NJ that are NOT about the shore or the Delaware River front receive their nod – even Cowtown, home of the America’s longest running rodeo. (Yes, a rodeo, and you thought NJ was one big city!) Shakedown Beach is a funny, funny story about not so funny events that take place in the cynical underbelly of politics as they are practiced in Southern NJ.
The main character and narrator is Jonah Eastman, who is a disgraced political pollster whose second career chance was helping to bring a former Philly pro basketball player to the NJ Statehouse as governor. The story tells of the near unraveling of the governor’s run for national senate seat, and the near unraveling of Eastman’s career – and life.
The story is told in a manner reminiscent of Carl Hiaason’s work – a narrative that begins at a spot and just sort of meanders until some sharp event brings it focus. However, the meandering quality is a good one – you just have no idea where this story is going or how it will end up. It is peopled with characters that I’m afraid may seen a bit over the top, but aren’t, actually. This is New Jersey, after all.
What I enjoyed most of this story is how it led me into a world that I will never experience in real life, nor will most of us (thankfully!). In real life, Dezenhall heads up a leading national crises management firm. In other words, he knows from whence he speaks.