Buried Biker: A Jesse Damon Crime Novel. K.M. Rockwood. Musa Publishing, Lancaster, OH 43130, 2013. E-book ISBN: 978-1-61937-815-5. $4.99. Paperback available from author. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org $10.00. 195 pages.
In K.M. Rockwood’s third mystery, Buried Biker, Jesse Damon falls foul of a bike gang called The Predators. Kelly, the woman Jesse has been seeing, though he’s not confident enough to call her his girlfriend, has been beaten and raped, and is hospitalized. Jesse learns this as he is arrested for the crime by the police detective duo Belkins and Montgomery, whose mission in life seems to be to arrest Jesse every chance they get.
It’s hard for Jesse to admit he loves Kelly, the only woman he has ever slept with, but his love keeps getting him deeper into trouble as he risks his paroled status to find out who hurt Kelly and why. As a parolee Jesse must avoid felons, and Kelly’s dad, Old Buckles, a member of the Predators, is a recently released felon, now using his daughter’s address as his “home plan.”
Montgomery releases Jesse when Kelly tells them he was not the rapist, but when Jesse goes to see her, she’s furious at him but won’t say why. Old Buckles is suspicious of Jesse, too. Belatedly Jesse learns that Black Rose, the “property” of the biker Razorback, is telling everyone that Jesse and Razorback made a deal to swap women. Furthermore, Black Rose says Jesse was very good in bed. Bewildered and wondering if Kelly will ever come to trust him, Jesse nevertheless persists in trying to learn exactly what happened.
Besides his familiar tormentor Aaron, the police snitch, who hangs around Jesse trying to buy drugs, Jesse encounters a seductive young woman named Carissa, a new reporter for the local Rothsburg Register, who photographs him being arrested and then with the Predators, whom he’s supposed to be avoiding. These photos make the front page of the paper. She says she wants him to help her meet these bikers for a story. He has no luck convincing her to avoid them.
In this third book Jesse has worked for the Quality Steel Fabrications plant long enough to belong to the union. He has a job driving the fork lift, and since he reads well, he helps employees who can barely read work with the invoices and instructions. There are a few people at the plant who see Jesse accurately, see the careful, competent job he does, know that he’s honest and not violent unless provoked. Another person who gives Jesse the benefit of the doubt is his parole officer, Mr. Ramirez. Most of the time Kelly sees and trusts him, but her two children are more reliable in their perception of Jesse, and are always relieved to see him and be with him. Both their separated parents have drinking problems.
Most of us don’t go through life with key people in our lives expecting the worst of us. It’s an excruciating human situation. Few of us, I suspect, would hold up as well as Jesse does. He suffers, yet he keeps doing his best by the people he encounters, even Aaron and Carissa, and the old woman sharing Kelly’s hospital room who thinks Jesse is her son and wants to hold his hand as she’s dying.
This series is amazing for its insight into the inner life of a parolee and for its emotional power. I recommend all the novels in this Jesse Damon series. The first two are Steeled for Murder (see my blog review on June 8), and Fostering Death (July 13). The fourth is: Send Off for a Snitch and the fifth, just out, is Brothers in Crime.
KM Rockwood draws on a varied background for stories, among them working as a laborer in a steel fabrication plant, operating glass melters and related equipment in a fiberglass manufacturing facility, and supervising an inmate work crew in a large medium security state prison. These jobs, as well as work as a special education teacher in an alternative high school and a GED teacher in county detention facilities, provide most of the background for her novels and short stories.