This latest Charlie Hood novel is as confusing as it is well-written and well-researched; the plot (or plots) are at once baffling and intriguing. The story draws the reader along by its sheer force right up to the end. Many of the characters that appeared in the preceding novel in the series, “Iron River,” are present here, with Charlie, still on loan to the ATF from the Sheriff’s Department, working along the Mexican border, this time chasing narcotic kingpins but still following the trail of guns crossing both ways over the border.
It is almost impossible to briefly summarize the book. There is Sean Ozburn, an ATF operative working undercover who goes crazily renegade after 15 months. A friend, Charlie has to look into Oz’ behavior to find out why he no long resembles the man he used to be. Is it the stress of working undercover that led Oz to slaughter three low-level narcotics runners in a safe house he established for a Mexican drug baron?
The subplots, involving characters from “Iron River” like Bradley Jones and Mike Finnegan, are interspersed along the way, somehow interrelated with the main theme just to bewilder the reader, each with itsr own ax to grind. One walks away from this novel with one of at least two reactions: It is either a brilliant tour-de-force or an utterly psychedelic product of an agile mind. Either way, it makes for an interesting read, and it is recommended.