In Levinson’s debut thriller, a drug dealer seeking revenge for his son’s murder is caught in the middle of a standoff between environmentalists and a billion-dollar logging corporation.
Soon after Canadian drug lord Felix Cecconi contemplates leaving his criminal life behind, someone guns down his 14-year-old son, Corelli. Now he wants retribution, which Douglas McKnight, of the multinational McKnight Enterprises, can provide by identifying the murderer. But McKnight believes Cecconi killed his daughter, Betty. Both she and her lover, Susan, died when Cecconi tried collecting a debt they owed, but their deaths were accidental. McKnight, however, has a compromise: He’ll name Corelli’s killer if Cecconi will assassinate environmentalist Sarah Medwood. Sarah and her associates’ blockade in the Clayoquot Sound rainforest (on Vancouver Island) is costing McKnight’s logging company money. Cecconi and his henchmen, Fan and Skeet, head to the island, where Cecconi surprisingly warms up to the beautiful forest and Sarah as well. As if occasional violence (or explosions) brought on by protests weren’t enough, people in the area soon face an outbreak of an unknown and lethal disease. Adding to the chaos is DS Haggerty, who, blaming Cecconi for his wife’s heroin addiction, is itching for a reason to off him. Levinson succeeds at generating sympathy for an initially unlikable protagonist. But the callous drug lord gradually develops more appealing traits. He has a fondness (and the pipes) for opera and becomes a paternal figure to Sarah’s daughter, Claire, who’s the same age as Corelli. Concise prose aptly conveys Cecconi’s dilemma of falling for the woman he’s planning to assassinate: “Cecconi watched her polish off her plate and wondered how best to kill her.” Likewise, short scenes keep the plot moving while providing opportunities for supporting characters to shine, like Red, McKnight’s pregnant wife and his company’s lead attorney.
A robust tale with consistent momentum and a slew of well-rounded characters.