Paolo calls Rufus "a Mack truck with no one driving." Rufus is the O'Neil family dog, and he shows up one morning with part of a twenty-dollar bill in his teeth.
Twelve-year-old Paolo figures that there must be more where that bill came from, and since his cousin Billy needs to repair a bent wheel on his bike, there's a reason for looking. Soon Paolo, his brother Georgie, and Billy end up in the monsignor's garden behind the Cathedral of San Joaquin, but it's not exactly treasure they find, it's a hand that shoots out of the undergrowth to grab Paolo's neck. The search for the stash leads the boys -- sometimes scared spitless -- on many a byway around Orange Grove City, California, in the summer of 1951. And onto the byway of conscience.
D. James Smith lives in California, where he studied with poet Philip Levine. A recipient of a fellowship in creative writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, his work appears frequently in literary magazines, most recently, The Amherst Review, New Millennium Writings, the Notre Dame Review, and Stand. His previous books include a collection of poems, Prayers for the Dead Ventriloquist, and an adult novel, My Brother's Passion.
His novels for younger readers are Fast Company and his first book about Paolo and friends, The Boys of San Joaquin.