Sam, a freelance photographer, and Patty, an underpaid reporter for the Mecklenburg Weekly, meet in Davidson, NC, when he comes to her aid after her aged Honda won’t start. They quickly become friends, and when she lands a freelance magazine assignment to write about the best “hidden gem” restaurants in western North Carolina, he offers himself as her driver and professional food photographer. During their travels, they not only meet an enthusiastic chef who claims the popularity of his chocolate cake is due to a secret ingredient, but impulsively visit a gem mine, where Sam lands an astonishing find. This sets them on a path of unanticipated mountain mayhem, careening through hair-raising encounters with a filthy, grudge-holding redneck, an off-kilter bear who’s just scarfed down one of those special chocolate cakes, and the addled chef whose secrets range far beyond his ingredients. It’s a fun novella that introduces a multitude of interesting characters, and invites readers to follow along on Sam & Patty’s further adventures. Don’t worry about those strands of “Dueling Banjos” in the background.
This sweet little book has disappeared from Amazon, but it’s worth seeking out in paperback on eBay or in your local library. Jerry Dawson also has a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/jerrydawsonbooks/), although it hasn’t been updated since August 2018.