Three friends’ annual Panama City Beach, Florida, getaway turns into a violent quest for vengeance in Bowers’ debut thriller.
Chaz Wilson’s trip down South has become a tradition for him and childhood pals Jilly and Roan, all now nearing their 30s. This time, when they make it to their Panama City Beach hotel, Roan vanishes. Roan’s a single guy who likes to party, but his concerned friends look around anyway—a search that regrettably ends with someone finding his corpse on the beach. The only detail detectives give Chaz is that Roan had asked a hotel staffer for directions to The Grunge, an underground club. Chaz wants answers, but when his older brother (and former convict), Sage, joins him in Florida, their amateur investigation quickly turns into bloody retribution. The novel features amped-up, bullet-riddled scenes, but it’s just as much an emotional awakening for Chaz. The protagonist, for instance, seems to be questioning his life’s direction for the first time. He may be in love with Jilly but is unsure of a future together, and he believes that a 13-year-old boy he befriends, who learns of Chaz’s potential baseball career, sees him as a failure. His wavering relationship with Jilly is the most enticing plot point since they share a 20-year history. The latter scenes are laden with gunfights and scuffles as the body count gradually rises. But the preceding pages, even with the melodrama, are surprisingly suspenseful too. Chaz, Jilly, and Roan, for example, visit places populated by shady people who could be murderers, including a bonfire and gentlemen’s club where Chaz gets tossed for fighting—and that’s all before they even make it to the beach. Chaz’s hunt for Roan’s killer pits him against various foes, including a possible connection to a drug cartel, but the story is one of revenge. And its protagonist won’t stop until someone is held accountable.
A riveting story about a man whose self-discovery will end violently or with a woman who loves him.