As drug runner Nick considers a new business venture, a few curious deaths complicate matters in Schlegel’s (Odyssey Tale, 2014) thriller.
Nick Harmen and his cousin Ryan have been routinely making monthly trips from Junction, Iowa, to Pleasant City, Iowa, to drop off pounds of marijuana for cash. That changes when their drug wholesaler and childhood friend Joey Sheeks freezes to death in the November snow, apparently during an LSD trip. Nick’s other cousin, Zack, inherits Joey’s operation and wants to know if Nick wants in on his scheme to grow his own marijuana and eliminate the middleman. Nick isn’t fond of Zack, though; back in high school, he let Nick unjustly take the rap for cocaine possession and never told Nick’s family the truth. Meanwhile, crooked sheriff Rick Kensley keeps asking about someone Zack knows—a mysterious man named Eric Marquez. Nick is also at odds with his ex-girlfriend, Tori; they’re both living in the same house raising their beloved infant daughter, Hayden, while Nick’s mother, Patricia, is in the hospital. But Nick’s biggest worry is the fact that his drug business has become decidedly more hazardous due to the fact that someone is murdering Junction locals. Schlegel’s tale is dense with subplots and well-developed characters; for example, Nick and Joey’s pal Adam Craig, the son of a Junction deputy, is a West Virginia cop who’s tormented by both his time in Iraq and a recently bungled police raid. The characters all share a growing sense of urgency as their individual predicaments get progressively worse. But as stark as the narrative is, Schlegel isn’t afraid of adding some sentiment, however gruff, as when Nick’s brother praises Patricia by saying, “She’s a great goddamn mom.” It all steadily builds to an expected climax that doesn’t quite happen, but Schlegel does resolve some of the story’s mysteries while promising a second installment.
An often somber but potent crime drama.