A seasoned criminal takes a young gangbanger under his wing in this debut urban drama.
Nineteen-year-old Frost asks G, a criminal paroled after serving 20 years of a life sentence, if he can join him during his daily workout sessions. Frost’s true objective is to convince G to help him “improve his drug game.” G offers him advice on, among other things, having bargain sales, checking customers for wires, and creating bylaws and accompanying penalties for his crew, so that Frost can maximize his profits. Whiting, in this semiautobiographical novel (the author and G share the same name), takes no moral stance on gangster life, unflinchingly portraying such scenes as the aftermath of a murder and a disturbing torture sequence. However, the story neither wallows in the brutality nor regards it lightly. G, in the role of educator, is sometimes ingenious, as when he shares his idea of creating a bogus conglomerate so that Frost’s crew will feel secure under strong leadership. At other times, however, he’s close to terrifying, as when he recovers the canine victim of a hit-and-run to show Frost how to properly dispose of a body. The novel’s crime-scene opening teases readers with a murder mystery that unfortunately goes nowhere; the killers’ identities are simply revealed to readers, and the investigating detectives disappear from the story. G also, on occasion, provides Frost with conflicting information, as when he tells him to take down “known confirmed snitches” by using a website that lists the names of merely alleged snitches. Frost’s inexperience, meanwhile, can stretch plausibility; although he’s a student earning mostly As and Bs and who scored an impressive 1390 on his SATs, he doesn’t know such basic terms as “merger,” “economics” or “enigma.” Frost also doesn’t encounter much trouble as he incorporates G’s teachings—until the very end of the book, which results in a doozy of a cliffhanger.
An often engaging crime story with solid characters and a grand setup that will make readers anticipate a sequel.