Dorothy Weil

River Rats

In River Rats a series of shootings and the unexplained demise of an old-time steamboat bring three childhood friends together. Jerry Burnside, a romantic harbor owner and Charlie Summers, a wealthy all-river man, compete as they did as youngsters for the love of Kay Kenny, the seductive owner of a barge line. The search for the sniper and the answers to the mystery that has haunted the three friends’ lives takes the reader to dangerous out-of-the-way places of the river past and present: a tiny fishing village deep in the Kentucky backwoods, a depressed river town full of secrets, and the drought-ridden Mississippi banks where the old steamboat is sunk in the sand.

“One of the last times they were all together, Jerry remembered trying to out-drink and out-story Charlie. Charlie had bragged about working on iced-over barges and saving a pleasure boat full of children, while Jerry recalled his legendary fight with Beany Fuller, a Neanderthal deckhand who had made a pass at Kay. He had fought until his knuckles were shredded and his face like a deformed apple, and finally kicked Beany through a wooden guard rail.

But it's a new world, Jerry reminded himself. And your rival is a man Kay feels close to because they both just lost their fathers, a man who has spent his life caring for his invalid wife and mother, a man who ‘really knows river people,’ has fixed an engine, and recruited fresh help for her ailing boat. Damn! If only he’d been able to catch the guy that shot Cliff. Surely that would be worth at least the new deckhands or the invalid mother.”

“Jerry backed his tug away, turned broadside to the head of the tow and proceeded to get out of the way of the 24,000 tons of barges coming his way. But just as the tug was broadside, the big boat came forward on both engines. The bows of the lead barges hit the tug on the port side, pinned the pilothouse door shut and rolled the Harvey on her side; the port propeller was nearly out of the water. Jerry found himself on the starboard wall. He slid down the wall which was now floor and reached for the engine controls and radio. He jammed both throttles as far forward as they would go, a pointless exercise in the case of the port propeller, which was only fanning air. He yelled into the radio, ‘All stop, Cap, God damn it, all stop!’ By now the boat was slanting over, heading for upside down, and Jerry started to slide back up the wall toward the ceiling.”

Selected Works

Fiction
Story of a woman and her family working together to save a brilliant man who is near madness and death.
Novel
A serious literary novel about an eighty-five year old couple who are threatened by the husband's serious illness and a pair of hoodlums from their deteriorating neighborhood. "A Good Woman" is not just a good novel, it's one that delivers a punch readers are not likely to have felt before--Ceil Cleveland, founding editor of "Columbia Magazine."
Family Memoir
A return to the author’s river home to recapture her family’s history.
Mystery Thriller
"A crackling good yarn" --James E. Casto, author of Towboats on the Ohio
Novel
Humorous yet poignant story of a fifteen-year- old girl trying her best to grow up.
Novel
Laura Hoffman returns to college to finish a degree in the Art Department. She copes with eccentric professors, a recalcitrant husband, growing children and a super-neat mother. Her adventures include a pass by The Faculty Feeler and a flirtation with a younger man.