Virginia Campbell and Tourmaline Harris have lived turbulent lives for their eighteen years. In exchange for her mother’s debts, Virginia works for the corrupt district attorney, Hazzard—competing in pageants and dealing drugs. Tourmaline looks like a proper young lady, getting good grades and going to church, but her father is head of a biker club and her mother is in prison.
When Hazzard decides he wants to take the biker club—the Wardens—down, he sends Virginia in to spy. She infiltrates the club, befriending Tourmaline, but when the circumstances become more threatening for both of them, they find that they have begun to rely on each other. Tourmaline and Virgina’s friendship is forged through a respect that overcomes their mutual suspicion and hostility. As Tourmaline says, ‘We’re friends because when girls—women—are alone in this world, they’re easier to pick off.’
The plot sometimes meanders as some characters’ motivations take time to emerge; other characters remain indistinct. Lemon’s descriptions of the South—the Blue Ridge mountains, the summer heat, the sound of tree frogs in the rain—are lush and magical, and shine amongst language that can edge into conventional. It sits in stark contrast to the rough and perilous modern world that Tourmaline and Virgina occupy.
But Done Dirt Cheap is often about these disparities, and Virginia and Tourmaline learn that they are everywhere in their lives. They discover that there are lies all around them; but there is also truth, and they can learn how to find it.