Big Man Coming Down the Road.


360 pages
ISBN 978-0-14-305177-0
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Douglas Ivison

Douglas Ivison is an assistant professor of English at Lakehead
University in Thunder Bay.


Often compared to Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen, among others, Brad Smith has established himself as a unique literary presence in Canadian literature with his past three novels: Busted Flush, All Hat, and One-Eyed Jacks. Filled with colourful characters at the margins of respectability and morality, Smith’s novels are fast-paced and entertaining with a strong and compelling narrative voice.


Big Man Coming Down the Road is no different. The plot begins with the death of crotchety multi-millionaire Everett Eastman. In the years preceding his death, he had dispensed of most his wealth, leaving little for his three children (each the product of a different marriage): the malicious, philandering, and ethically challenged Ben, the beautiful but struggling documentary filmmaker Kick (the focus of much of the novel), and the pot-smoking, Dylan-quoting, wannabe musician Ethan. Each child is given one business to run and a challenge to overcome in order to inherit that business. Throw in a NHL star turned farmer as the will’s executor, a crusty, old, tax-indebted country music star, and a sleazy Nashville record producer, amongst other characters, and let the madness ensue.


Much of the novel revolves around Kick’s efforts to meet the condition imposed upon her inheritance: ensure that Jonah Peck, a legendary country star who owes $12 million to the IRS, makes the album that her father had funded before his death. In order to track down the $250,000 invested in the album (for which not one track has been recorded) with the hope of using the money to fund her current documentary project, Kick goes to Nashville to track down the elusive singer and his corrupt manager. There she lands in jail, and ends up on Peck’s farm outside of Nashville, where the singer spends his days hunting wild turkeys and smoking marijuana. In the end, as you might expect, it’s happy endings all around.


Big Man Coming Down the Road is an entertaining if slight novel. The characters are colourful (if a bit too one-dimensional), it’s tightly written and fast paced, and the world of country music and the increasingly urbanized rural society in which much of the novel is set is vividly sketched, yet the novel leaves the reader feeling as if there could have been more.


Smith, Brad., “Big Man Coming Down the Road.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,