“Nothing to Lose,” by Jim Sanderson, Texas Christian University Press, 208 pages, $22.50

Roger Jackson is a private eye, a peeper. His is an unglamorous life. He lives in Jefferson County behind the Pine Curtain.

His ex-girlfriend has left him, claiming he refuses to grow up. His career is spent photographing cheating spouses and tracking sticky-fingered cashiers.

In “Nothing to Lose,” a novel by Jim Sanderson, Roger Jackson suddenly finds his job coming back to bite him.

A few weeks earlier, an engineer hired Roger. Roger photographed the engineer’s wife in an affair with a social worker.

Now the social worker, Harry Krammer, has turned up dead. The photos Roger took are found on the body.

The police, recognizing the style, question Roger about the photos. They want to know who Roger took them for.

The law views Roger, Roger’s client or the dealer who sold Krammer the bag of cocaine found along with the photos as the primary suspects in the killing. Roger is not their main suspect, but Roger knows at least one other suspect.

The case takes a strange turn a few days later. Friends of Krammer hire Roger to track down the killer.

Against his better judgment, but at least in part because law enforcement expects Roger to help anyway, Roger takes the job.

Soon Roger finds himself in a complicated web involving the seamy side of Southeast Texas.

Meth heads and bootleggers are among the more reputable folks Roger encounters tracking an elusive cocaine dealer with a psychotic brother.

Roger must balance his search against his efforts to win back his ex-girlfriend. A trial lawyer, she wants Roger to become more respectable, offering Roger to reconcile if Roger becomes an investigator for her law firm.

Roger calls his world “the land of the three Ps: pine, petroleum and Pentecostals.” Roger favors the Pentecostals. Respectability is something for Baptists and Beaumont.

Sanderson, a professor at Lamar University, has an ear and eye for the seedy corners of Southeast Texas.

His book captures the grungy side of the Pine Curtain.

“Nothing to Lose” is earthy, raunchy and often profane. It is a compelling read despite, or perhaps, because of that.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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