by Jeffery Hess
Down & Out Books

"I don’t need to be breaking the law again and I swore I wouldn’t, but father to father, who both lost sons, I’ll help you get any kind of revenge you choose."

Scotland Ross is trying hard to stay out of trouble, but when his friend’s son is killed, he is drawn back into a life of violence. What starts out as revenge becomes more complicated as various crews from New York to Cuba get tangled together in drugs, money, and power. All the action plays out in 1980s Florida against a backdrop of palmetto scrub and orange groves, with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Ozzy Osbourne on the radio and the ever-present heat of the rising sun. The violence unfurls quickly, but the characters enter the story with a slow burn of vengeance. With names like Gator Doug, Cara Quemada (Burnt Face), and Luno Luzazzi, they each have a story to tell as they circle Scotland Ross at the center of all the action.

Written in the noir style with Southern Gothic tones and Pulp Fiction flair, Hess builds a world in which each character seems doomed by their choices. The author constructs a complex web of action that moves along fiercely right up to a showdown shootout that feels inevitable from the beginning. Hess is not content to write one-dimensional criminals but instead mines the motivations of each character to reveal values beyond sociopathic violence. Scotland Ross is more than an anti-hero bent on destruction for the sake of loyalty. He is complex and reflective and is seeking the straight and narrow even as it hems him in with its demands for restraint. His life is shadowed by loss, but the darkness might give way as Scotland looks to redeem himself and abandon the violence that pervades his life. Love and second chances may inspire a happy ending even for those that aspire to live by the sword and die by the sword.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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