Moonlighting for the fourth time, prosecuting attorney Lindquist (Never Mind Nirvana, 2000, etc.) focuses on the methamphetamine trade in his Washington State hometown.
Detective Wyatt James is a driven man. Despite a law degree and a gorgeous girlfriend who shares his interest in classic films, he’d rather work. Specifically, he wants to bring down a meth dealer who has adopted the pseudonym Howard Schultz in honor of another Pacific Northwest entrepreneur, the founder of Starbucks. Wyatt’s beat, Tacoma and environs, leads the country in the homemade drug’s manufacture and abuse; he’s sick of seeing the addicts ruin their lives, not to mention those of their abused children. But Howard, even when addled by his own concoctions, proves a resourceful enemy, almost living up to his drug-fueled delusions as he manages to outwit Wyatt. A series of needy users, including two addicted young mothers, provide shelter and space to manufacture more of the drugs, and proximity to Canada almost helps Howard outwit laws restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine, the cold medicine containing meth’s primary ingredients. County prosecutor Mike Lawson, a quiet force for law and order who reads about Zen Buddhism and seeks inner peace, provides the third voice in this contemporary crime thriller. The narrative takes turns among their points of view as Wyatt hunts Howard, whose twin goals are to evade arrest and to keep producing the highly addictive white powder. Lindquist doesn’t glamorize drug life: Howard and his colleagues are described as the living dead, with teeth like “dying brown and grey pegs poking out from swollen gums.” But evocative details, such as the steps necessary to create meth from a mix of cold medicine and automotive supplies, enmesh us in Howard’s mad world right up to the inevitable, satisfying conclusion.
A grim thriller with an insider’s view of a deadly epidemic.