Breezy, cooly violent action debut featuring a two-fisted, pistol-packing tough gal courier chased by bad guys across a shattered, washed-up-and-left-for-dead American heartland.
Shortly after she gets word that her hard-drinking, drug-smuggling, Vietnam vet father has died, Allie Kerry imagines she'll make some easy money when she gets a call from her slick Key West Cuban handler Joey to pick up a computer disk at a seedy bar near Seattle and drive it in her '69 Mustang down to Houston. At the seedy bar, before she can show off her pool-shooting artistry, the man with the disk is shot in the head and Allie is placing expert kicks in the groins of shadowy assailants. Dodging bullets, she blows out of town and begins a darkly atmospheric road trip through blasted Indian reservations and creaky backwoods shacks where her edgy, boondocks noir friends offer rude hospitality and strange tales of dirty deeds done back during the Vietnam War. The disk, it turns out, contains a crude computer game featuring a former CIA agent whose murder was made to resemble an accidental drowning. Win the game, and the location of a dastardly, hush-hush CIA-sanctioned Vietnam killing spree is revealed. Did her father play a role in this or other wartime atrocities? The secret is in a box of photographs hidden back home in Key West, where Allie next flees, bad guys in pursuit. First-novelist Siler's technique of layering then-scenes of Allie's wrong-side-of-the-tracks childhood with now-scenes of violence grows tiresome in places, as does her predictable tendency to have the baddies pounce just when Allie's memories of her towering father are clearest. After unloading her contempt for the craven sins of her parents' generation, though, Slier speeds her narrative to a slam-bang, tin-roof shootout that succeeds at being both cinematic and realistic.
A bumpy, bloody road trip into a dark past and darker present from a writer who may have what it takes to become a genre star.