Big Maria by Johnny Shaw

“This book is so funny it cured my hangover.”

Yes, I laughed pretty hard while reading this one morning after drinking. It cleared my headache right up. I won’t say it’ll do the same for you, but it did the job a second time when I got a call that my sister, after hours of labor, went in for a C-section with her first child. I am an anxious sort, and I was nearly done with the book at that point. The laughs were over and things got real. This is where a funny story about three guys who try to find a treasure in gold on America’s largest artillery range can take a wrong step. I am a demanding reader who expects solid story structure and few loose ends left untied, and no shortcuts or easy endings.

I said if he messes this up, the next time I see him I’ll punch him in the nuts since I’m too short to reach his face.

Let’s just say that my sister is fine, my beautiful baby niece Alyssa is in her arms, and Johnny Shaw’s nuts will remain intact (for the time being). The ending was what had to happen and he handled it with the plums of a seasoned pro. (No, I didn’t mean “aplomb”). The book is a great read and doesn’t have any “mushy” sections where the story wandered. It never rushes, either. His characters have to make some tough choices, and he never cops out and pretends we won’t notice. No, he makes them face it and the SOB gets them through it with the integrity of the story unsullied. That is not as easy as it sounds. If you’ve ever winced or rolled your eyes during a story, or said “it’s just a movie” when a movie craps the bed… you won’t have to do that here. The guy’s got chops.

If you enjoy the hilarious tales of Carl Hiaasen set in Florida (known as America’s wang) Johnny Shaw is your man in the Southwest. He crafts living characters and tosses them into a tilt-a-whirl of believable but outrageous comedy. Like a goofball Shakespeare, he sculpts the language to his own comedic ends. I never knew what a donkling was. When you find out, it will cure your hangover.

I greatly enjoyed Johnny’s first novel DOVE SEASON and found BIG MARIA
even more entertaining. If you enjoy ribald humor and stories that drunkenly stumble on the edge of belief… Shaw is your donkleberry.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Not only is Johnny Shaw’s story “Gay Street” a star among many in my anthology PROTECTORS: STORIES TO BENEFIT PROTECT, but he was present when I earned the aforementioned hangover. I don’t owe him any money and there is no reacharound expected or implied. We’re pals because I read his first book and stalked him because of it, not the other way around.