By Richard Dokey
Rivers Bend Press, $19.95, 247 pages

Acclaimed short-story author Richard Dokey’s first fictional novel The Hollywood Café is about a long- standing cafe in a small town in California where the townspeople routinely gather. One of the previous owners of the café was brutally murdered in the back office in the 1940’s for his rumored treasure. The murderers were never caught and no treasure was ever found, yet the case was closed many years ago. The current owner of the café is being persuaded to sell to a strip mall developer and the dilemma that it presents sets the tale in motion. With an enthralling and ingenious storyline, the book leaves readers confused with consistently missing and necessary dialogue between characters assuming intentions that are never drawn out or described. The story develops naturally, allowing the reader to keep up but with preventable effort. It almost has the feel of a first draft of an impressive idea; much more could be delivered in this imaginative tale. Dokey may have been attempting the voice of one uneducated, yet he does not deliver in pulling off his clear intention. The Hollywood Café was disappointing in the writing but not the story, with plot twists and the secretive mayhem of small-town life.

Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson,