A group of former hippies confronts the war on drugs in 1989.
In this historical novel, Johnson (A Nation of Mystics: Book Three: Journeys, 2016, etc.) returns to the group of characters featured in her trilogy, moving past their drug-fueled, post-adolescence experiences in Woodstock and Haight-Ashbury to a more settled adulthood in Northern California. Kathy Murray, now an attorney, agonizes over the new mandatory minimum sentences that have her clients facing decades in prison for minor drug offenses. She is passionate about her work, waking up in the middle of the night worrying about her clients and her district attorney nemesis. But work takes a back seat to personal concerns when her ex-boyfriend Christian Brooks returns, 20 years after heading to South America to flee the narcs and perfect his development of LSD. Kathy has to tell him about the son he fathered before disappearing. Kathy learns that Christian is still involved in drug trafficking and discovers links between her clients, friends, and longtime enemies. Johnson is a strong storyteller, and readers who have not read her Nation of Mystics trilogy will have little difficulty following the expansive cast of characters and their dramas. The book carries a definite message about the many ills caused by drug prohibition and mandatory minimum sentences in all communities. Fortunately, the author does not allow the didactic aspects of the tale to overwhelm the plot, skillfully balancing the messaging with the narrative as a whole. But the novel may not be to all readers’ tastes; the prose includes frequent descriptions of life-altering psychedelic trips and lines like “The ancient karmic connection that had brought them together still held them tuned to each other.”
An enthusiastically pro-drug tale that deftly depicts 20th-century Californians.