Dorris Bridge tackles the legends in a small town in 1970s California, and manages to be half YA novel and half adult novel, written by Clive Riddle.
High school senior Kyle Burgess likes pranks, partying, and the new girl in school who doesn't seem to notice him except for the guy that bullied her brother (he didn't know). His father, Randall Burgess, is the Chief of Police and is nearly always dealing with small town politics and infighting with the local Sheriff.
But when a series of deadly hit-and-runs begin to plague the town, Randall is determined to get to the bottom of it. These tragic occurrences only strain Randall and Kyle's relationship further, as they've never seen eye to eye anyway. But Kyle can't ignore the legend of the Lights - as he's seen them himself. Blinding bright Lights that dance in the sky and make your head hurt. They've been reported every night of the accidents.
Randall scoffs at the legends and instead focuses his attention on the hit-and-runs and a thirty-year-old cold case, in which a man went missing after trying to return home to Dorris Bridge.
Could it be that all of these events, legends, and mysteries are in fact intertwined...?
The 70s vibe is evident quickly, and not in a kitschy kind of way - it creates a clear atmosphere of a time period that seems both recent and far away. Dorris Bridgehas a feeling of a 70s movie, giving off an authentic and gritty, but also entertaining and interesting, aura. The full cast of characters is large and varied and the often testosterone-laced dialogue is realistic, if not always to my liking.
The real strength of Dorris Bridge, in my opinion, is the different legends and small town mysteries that are presented. The first hint of the Lights has a spookiness and intrigue. The suspicious death of a man peering at the Indians frowned-upon dancing, the disappearance of the poor Japanese man returning to his beloved inheritance, and the spotty past of the Sheriff all have an equal amount of impact on Dorris Bridge, presenting its secrets and puzzles with inscrutability.
However, there were times when I felt a bit frustrated with the lack of a more consistent thread of progress in the main plots. It did come together eventually, and the relationships, rivalries, and human flaws are very well-written - but some of the legends felt more like great story beginnings, than a complete tale.
Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle did start to fit and my confidence grew near the end, but I was still left a little unsatisfied and unrewarded. But Dorris Bridge is, truly, an honest portrayal of life, pain and secrets and was surprising at some turns. It was just one of those books for me, as someone who has read very many, that seemed to take longer than it should to read. It really has nothing to do with length or quality of the book, per se... it's more a pacing issue and a personal opinion thing. I found a lot to be admired in Dorris Bridge - the characterizations, the enigmas, the revelations, the healing of families - but never seemed to love the novel. It just went slower than I'd like, and lacked the dramatic punch of answers I thought would be waiting at the final turn.
Yet Dorris Bridge remained, for me, a very interesting and, more often than not, appealing look at the present from the past. So, don't hesitate to pick up a copy and read it for yourself.