In Green’s debut urban drama, pool-playing friends’ decision to grow and manage their own weed fields comes with personal addiction struggles and an irate Colombian drug cartel.
Tommy and his pals spend a lot of their time at Carmichaels for beer, endless games of pool, and the occasional joint. It’s marijuana, however, that could make them millions, if they can successfully harvest and sell the seeds. But these men may also fall prey to their own dependencies, everything from alcohol and sex to acid and speed. When Tommy and buddy Frisk outmaneuver Colombians at the pool table for cash and cocaine, they inadvertently incite drug lord Pablo. Now the two friends must somehow convince the Colombians that they have no intention of starting a war. The author excels at establishing a world just for his characters: it’s difficult, for example, to pinpoint the location of Tommy’s town. The year, too, isn’t apparent, because the technology includes both cell phones and the “reel to reel tape machine” on which Tommy listens to music. Carmichaels becomes a refuge for the protagonist, who gets in a drunken brawl at a house party with out-of-towners, and it’s appropriate that a confrontation with Pablo involves cue sticks. Pool novices won’t learn much from Green’s novel: it details a few games, such as nine-ball, but runs through things like snooker and the English technique with nary an explanation. At the same time, female characters are unfortunately lacking. Women typically serve as sexual conquests, while even Catina, a potential love interest for Tommy, exists merely to create further tension as Pablo’s daughter. Sylvia, however, the Russian leader of the town’s local underworld, is a welcome exception. With all of the story’s debauchery, Green shows that his characters have a moral line in the sand.
Suitably dark, but levelheaded characters keep readers from venturing too deep into gloomy territory.