SLOW FIRE by Ken Mercer


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An unpopular new sheriff learns that the drug kingpin he’s been hunting may be one of the town’s most eminent citizens.

Leaving behind the gritty streets of Los Angeles and a heroin addiction, former LAPD narcotics detective Will Magowan takes a job as chief of police in the small Northern California town of Haydenville. His advanced skills are required almost immediately, when the body of young Caitlyn Johnson is discovered near an abandoned kayak. But a controversial shooting at the town’s only bar puts Will in the cross hairs of local enemies like Frank Carver, transformed from a Hell’s Angel and convicted killer into philanthropist and literary lion. Will’s pending divorce, his eager but bumbling deputy Thomas, as well as the effort of staying clean pile up the stress, and Mayor Bonnie Newman, who hired him to clean up Haydenville’s blossoming drug trade, warns that his days may be numbered. Will catches a break with the discovery of a meth stash at the remote cabin of skeevy Henry Bell, but Bell kills himself before he can name his criminal boss. Will’s instinct tells him that Carver heads this massive drug operation, a suspicion confirmed when he snags a flashy out-of-town dealer named Glen Sexton who agrees, after much legal wrangling, to help catch Carver. But like many of Will’s efforts in Haydenville, this plan hits more than its share of snags.

Mercer’s debut is full of familiar plot elements, but both his prose and his hero are refreshingly honest and direct.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-55835-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2009