SMOKE by Hank Shaeffer


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A pulp fiction novel of weed, greed, sex, and trees.

There aren't many old-growth redwoods left in Redwood County, California, and West Coast Lumber wants to build a road to access and harvest them. Trouble is, the property where they would build the road doesn't belong to them, so company owner Harriman Saul wants to buy it. The Eco-Resistance Coalition demonstrates against the company’s efforts—“Logging kills!” they shout. “Tree Girl” Murrelet Myers camps high up in a redwood to keep it from being cut down, recording her experiences and posting to a blog with a worldwide audience. Meanwhile, lots of marijuana grows nearby on cleared forest land. Someone can make millions if they control access to the redwoods, but the weed growers don’t want anyone near them. A central character, Shanna Black, is a gorgeous, sexy, and “disreputable drug attorney” who says “I guess I relate to people who have trouble controlling their impulses.” Of her, the two-bit criminal Billy Odom thinks, “This honey could hog-tie his ass to a truck bumper anytime she had a mind.” But ex–vice cop Fast Eddie Fuentes has much better luck with Shanna. She knows Eddie sees her as “a cheap, conniving hustler” but that he’s one too. Billy’s attempt to kill Fuentes takes a spectacular turn, and Billy’s brother Lon tries to handle major crazy-mother issues when he brings home cocktail waitress Lana Janich. There are many more badass characters in this complicated plot, with nearly everyone smoking pot and scattering f-bombs and mf-bombs throughout their dialogue. So don’t look for any pillars of the community, but the characters are all fun in their own sleazy ways. Shanna states her cynical philosophy nicely: “You know what the truth is?…It’s a comprehensive collection of all the things you can never have.”

An enjoyable Tarantino-type tale with no heroes and only the redwoods to root for.

Pub Date: March 15th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-9966363-0-8
Page count: 324pp
Publisher: Rugged Land
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2016


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