by Tom Pitts
Down & Out Books

"'This business is done. It’s gonna go all the way legal any minute. Then the big shots are going to be the only ones up here.'"

Vic and Barbara have the kind of enduring bond that ensures she can pick up the phone at any hour, after any interval, ask Vic for help, and know he will say yes, regardless of the danger. In this fast-paced novel that is part caper, part high adrenaline chase, Barbara’s request is that Vic harbor her good-for-nothing son who has gotten himself into trouble with some bad guys.

Jerry is the kind of selfish, morally ambivalent twenty-something who needs a hearty spanking. Unfortunately for him and those who accompany or shelter him, the violent and criminal elements he ticks off don’t dole out swats on the bottom but rather blows of the fatal variety. These are outlaws with a violent vengeance in mind, and their pursuit of Jerry and his protectors grows in size and urgency as the chasers and chased race around northern California.

The stomping ground here is marijuana country, where growing, supplying, and surviving are big business on all sides of the law, even as the legalization of marijuana threatens to close the curtain on California’s illegal but established pot businesses and the outlaws who run them. This story is best early on with its sneak peeks into the lifestyle and business of pot growers. Later, the action-packed but less distinctive series of chases showcase character after character following personal agendas and grudges up, down, and around the Bay Area.

The book is timely for its focus on marijuana at a historical moment when California’s new legalization, muddled regulations, and historical networks are colliding in pursuit of a coherent and legal pot industry. However, the book’s real distinction is as a rolling crap game of lawless factions who, if pot is no longer the game, will surely likely find something else to fight about.

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