Lost in Rio Linda

Local writer Daniel Hallford puts his experiences to good use (he was a prison teacher, then a parole officer; now he’s a consultant to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation). The characters in these stories are realistically and empathetically drawn people who often end up incarcerated—drunks, junkies, strippers, dealers—basically, our neighbors, the ones without resources. The title story follows a couple of boyhood bros, now fallen prey to meth, as they try to sort out a love triangle. We get a fair bit of tragedy from an Aryan Brotherhood shot caller’s girlfriend; then, in an epistolary story, another woman makes a break for sobriety. But no matter how bad the thug, how wretched the woman, Hallford bears in mind where these people came from and how they became so damaged. This is good, hard-boiled writing; where else are you going to read about some dope slinger who gets lost in Rio Linda?