Author: Ed Davis
Published: January 2022 by Artemesia Publishing LLC
Category: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
This is a story of America! Lynden Hoover, a young man on the brink of a new beginning, cannot embrace it without confronting the traumas of his past. Help comes from The Duke, an old loner who calls America’s landscape his home. He clings to an honor code, but in fleeing from Short Arm, his merciless enemy, his code is being tested.
At the end of the 20th century few Knights of the Road still cling to their vanishing lifestyle. The Duke mentors Lynden, enlisting old traveling friends to keep himself and his apprentice just ahead of Short Arm’s relentless pursuit. When two of those friends are murdered, the stakes become life or death.
Bonds are formed, secrets exposed, sacrifices made, trusts betrayed, all against a breathtaking American landscape of promise and peril. Three unforgettable characters, hurtling toward a spellbinding climax where pasts and futures collide, and lives hang in the balance.
When I was contacted by Nick Fontaine with regard to a review of The Last Professional, I wasn’t at all sure it was my kind of book but I’m happy to say I was quite wrong. It didn’t take long for me to become invested in the story and the characters. Set in 1970s America, The Last Professional is an intriguing and engrossing tale of a vanishing lifestyle — life as a hobo, riding freight trains across the country and living free, with the related privations and dangers.
Lynden Hoover, a young man with the opportunity of a new beginning at a fast growing tech company in California, first needs to resolve issues from his childhood. When he was eleven years old and looking for a substitute father figure an old tramp had filled that void for a while, but then the tramp had all but abducted him and kept him in a boxcar for three weeks before letting him go. The boy felt as abandoned as he had when his dad left, despite the circumstances. The tramp had stayed with Lyndon since then, the thought of not fighting back haunting him. After a scene at work he left and wondered if he could find the tramp again and somehow punish him for what he’d done.
Now he was on a train again, the first he’d ridden since he was a boy. He’d jumped aboard as it was rolling out of the Roseville yard —an awkward and clumsy catch with the heavy pack strapped to his back. Somehow he got on, scrambling into what he thought was an empty boxcar. It was only when he was safely inside, catching his breath and shucking off his pack, that he realized he wasn’t alone. From the darkest corner of the car he saw a silver glint on a long steel blade, and the shadowy shape of the man holding it.
Lyndon teamed up with the Duke, an old timer, or ‘Profesh’ as he’s known to the other hobos, who had spent most of his life riding the trains but was now desperately trying to evade Short Arm, an erstwhile friend of sorts who is on his trail with murder in mind. Along the way the Duke shares his knowledge of the hobo lifestyle with Lyndon and pretty soon they formed a fast friendship.
A very well written and nostalgic, character driven tale, rich in detail, full of drama, with lots of dialogue between the two main protagonists and those they meet along the way, giving an in depth look into the life of a hobo, as well as a bygone era. And life on the tracks is so unpredictable so there’s always that sense of suspense and tension, especially since it’s written as if it’s happening in the present. Something completely different for me and I enjoyed it very much.
My thanks to Nick for my review copy
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Ed Davis began his writing career forty years ago, pausing in boxcars, under streetlamps and in hobo jungles to record the beats and rhythms of the road as he caught freight trains and vagabonded around the Pacific Northwest and Canada. In the decades since, while his destinations and modes of travel may have changed, his quest to capture the essence of the traveling experience has remained true.
Davis lives a short distance from Jack London’s famous Beauty Ranch and from the sprawling institution that is the setting for his latest story, “In All Things”. During the summer of 1970, when he was just seventeen, he enrolled in the psychiatric technician training program at Sonoma State Hospital in Eldridge, California. Now, over forty years after completing his training, Davis has penned a fictionalized account of his experiences. “In All Things” offers a candid perspective on the way things used to be inside the wards and behind the closed doors of US mental institutions.
Find out more on the author’s website.