A big-city cop suspended from Narcotics after an angry outburst retreats to his late mother’s house in bucolic Dunston, Pa., only to find that Philadelphia was a lot safer than this little hamlet.
As if Meredith Carrick’s death weren’t enough, more bad news swiftly follows for depressive Detective Doyle Carrick: His stepfather, Frank Menlow, has died as well. Since there’s no one left to tend their place and Doyle has no reason to stay in the city, he rusticates himself to Dunston, where neighboring organic farmer Nola Watkins offers at least the promise of sweet diversion. Little does Doyle know that by the time he gets Frank buried, there’ll be four other bodies cooling in the Dunston morgue, casualties of Doyle’s repeated run-ins with a passel of drug dealers. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Redtail Holding Company has been buying up parcels of land in unseemly haste, and the anonymous calls pressing Nola to sell soon escalate to more florid misfortunes. The designer blue corn she’s contracted to raise for a wedding reception is infected with a mysterious blight. Someone sets fire to her cornfield after methodically harvesting the infected crop. Doyle’s attempts to interest Police Chief Francis Pruitt in Nola’s troubles are stymied by the fact that Pruitt already has his eye on Doyle as a troublemaker. Then people who aren’t drug dealers begin to die, heralds of a deep-dyed conspiracy to genetically modify innocuous crops like apples and corn in ways that will make your head spin.
Drug dealers, suspect developers, Russian gangsters, mad scientists—Dunston’s got them all, and McGoran’s debut piles on the menace as if there were no tomorrow, which maybe there isn’t.