Reviewed by Bil Howard for Readers' Favorite
The muddy waters of the Perdido River swamps are covering a multitude of secrets, as are the Shelbey, Percy and Doogan families. It is Duddy Doogan’s quest to uncover them all in a search for his father or his father’s remains, as well as some form of understanding that can finally set his cursed soul at ease. In Perdido River Bastard, D.B. Patterson takes you on a journey following a failed suicide attempt by our hero, Duddy Doogan, who has never quite settled after what happened to him in a traumatic childhood accident that is far from his conscious memory. He has never quite settled what happened to his father either, and has never made peace with the fact that his only memories of him are bad ones. At the urging of his godmother Hattie, Duddy follows a trail across Alabama and Florida that is little different from a treasure hunt, with each clue bringing him closer to one more piece of the puzzle. Not unlike Joseph Conrad’s legendary novel, Duddy goes on his own odyssey into the heart of darkness that is frightfully covered in a family curse as old as Uriah Shelbey who ran wild along the watershed of the Perdido River centuries before, planting his seeds and bastard children who fight to survive the legacy left to them. Along the way, Duddy discovers that there is a different sort of strength within him and a desire to live and thrive with new love by his side.
D.B. Patterson paints an all too vivid portrait of the traumatic history of a family struggling to survive a curse of which “death is family,” in Perdido River Bastard. As Duddy Doogan struggles to discover what is behind each small clue along the road of his quest, he begins to uncover more and more of who he is and the meaning to his life. The color, aroma, sound and flavor of the old south is brilliantly displayed throughout this very well written book. Every character is real, as if they are not a part of fiction, but are truly alive and sitting in front of you as you turn each page. The depth of the twisted plot leaves only subtle clues as to where it is leading the reader along the way, making the entire story full of surprise turns in every new chapter. Perdido River Bastard is a brilliantly written novel that you simply won’t be able to put down from beginning to end. You will smell it, taste it, see it, feel it and live it as though it was your own family history.