Last year I read Lifetime Loser by James Ross, I liked it a great deal. Although the back drop was Golf, a game that I know nothing about, it did not engulf the story. In some ways it was a little reminiscent of Dick Francis and his love of horses. You do not need to know anything about horses to enjoy a Dick Francis book.

I was not sure where James Ross would head after Lifetime Loser, I knew that there was plenty of steam left both in his characters and the Prairie Winds Golf Course.

Would he do more, or would he head in an entirely different direction?

I sat back and waited for the next book. Roughly translated, that means I did nothing! Projects come and go, and I lost touch with James Ross.

A few weeks ago we reconnected. James has been very industrious and has added another three books to his credit.

Finish line picks up The Prairie Winds Golf Course 10 years after Lifetime Loser, J Dub as he is affectionately known is still the owner. However he is not the main character in Finish Line. Instead we get to meet Curt Schroeder, a part owner of Prairie Winds and a man with a huge heart.

Curt receives a frantic call from a very good friend, her son and his friend have been arrested for vandalizing a neighbors property with a paint ball gun. It is summer vacation, what can she do to keep these kids out of trouble until school starts again?

Curt offers the two kids the opportunity to work at the golf course, the proceeds going toward the cost of repairing the damage they have caused.

I don’t want to spoil the story by sharing much more of the plot. However I do like to tease. In Lifetime Loser we had murder and mayhem, Finish Line is a very different book. There are no villainous villains, rather there are unwitting victims and colorful characters.

The list is endless and they are all delightful. Captain Jer, the beer swilling ex-pilot, Pork Chop, a man that has never met an all you can eat buffet that he didn’t like, and the unassuming Bowtye. All of these characters are so well crafted that by the end of the book they are your best friends!

It is really hard to put a label on Finish Line, some people might view it as a ‘coming of age story’ for Justin and Keith (the two young teens), but I am not sure I would buy into that. Certainly the two youngsters learn many life lessons through their time at Prairie Winds, knowledge that they will retain, however I do not think that James Ross intended this to be a ‘coming of age’ book.

What I see is a very crossover piece of writing. If you like golf you will like the story, if you are looking for a well written novel, you will like it, in fact even if you hate golf you will like it! Maybe the most powerful aspect is the human interrelations between the characters.

Finish Line is everything and more than I expected from this author. The Prairie Winds Golf Course is still the backdrop, ten years has passed, and J Dub has regained ownership. Finish Line does not have J Dub as the main character though. James Ross has found a different set of people. The characters are ones that you just want to reach out and talk to.

Even the front cover gave me pause for thought, I did not understand the meaning of the art work until I was some way into the text . That cover should be turned into a poster. It should also be displayed in every school in the country!

You can order your copy of Lifetime Loser or Finish Line by using the links above.

Simon Barrett

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