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Slow Fire Hardcover – February 16, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Parker's take on this was the creation of Jesse Stone, the alcoholic, ex-LAPD detective, his marriage broken, his life on the edge of the abyss, who turns bi-coastal and sets up shop in Paradise, MA. Now comes Ken Mercer, with his own twist on a story line that nearly always works like a bandit. Will Magowan has left LA and his job as a narcotics detective for a job as chief of Haydenville, a town in northern California in which every resident seems to be tweaking, scratching, itching and committing mayhem. Looming above them all is a one-shot wonder writer, with a nasty pair of twin boys and a past that includes serious time in stir.
Will figures him for the majordomo of meth, but with the whole town seemingly against him, including the smarmy mayor, the task of convicting him appears to be Sisyphean. Enter Will's wife Laurie, who offers soothing moments in a narrative of nearly unrelieved struggle and pain. Will's other support (a counterpart to Jesse Stone's Suitcase Simpson) is a young man named Thomas, who longs for a nickname and who desperately wants to be of help to his fragile chief. As the challenges increase, Will goes into the woods--that traditional locus of suffering and adventure--to stand up for justice and achieve a decent measure of personal redemption in the process.
This is a very strong narrative, with interesting characters, a fully-realized setting and a piledriver plot. It is an exceptional debut for the author, from whom we should all now expect a Will Magowan series. I certainly look forward to one. Highly recommended.
Former LAPD narcotics detective Will Magowan has pretty much hit rock bottom. Having been fired because of the heroin addiction he picked up while working undercover, he's estranged from his wife and living in a beat up Airstream trailer at the opening of author Ken Mercer's debut novel, Slow Fire.
Still unemployed and trying to get his life together two years after his firing, Magowan's prospects for another job in law enforcement are looking rather grim. Until, that is, he gets an offer from the Mayor of Haydenville, California to become their Chief of Police. Located far upstate and deep inland in National Forest territory, the once idyllic town is suffocating under a growing methamphetamine problem, one so bad that the Mayor is willing to overlook Magowan's current baggage in favor of his past expertise.
Magowan accepts the position, and in relatively short order identifies the person he believes to be the source of the meth; Frank Carver, a man who served time in the 1970's after being convicted of the voluntary manslaughter of his wife. Unfortunately, Carver also wrote a bestselling book shortly after his release from prison which, in conjunction with his generous patronage of the town's library, makes him `hands off' as far as the Mayor is concerned.
It's not giving anything away to mention that Magowan identifies Carver as his main suspect (it happens early on), as Slow Fire is arguably more of a character study than it is a mystery in the strictest sense.Read more ›
One of the things I find most enjoyable about this novel is the way Mr. Mercer combines some pretty intense action, including violence and some graphic details, with quirky references to classic literature. The pace, plot, and action sequences all make the novel hard to put down, but the glimpses into Will's past and interests, as well as the slow unfolding of his family relationships, set the novel far apart from the run-of-the-mill murder mysteries. As another reviewer noted, the details Mr. Mercer provides including an understanding of tbe meth culture, police work, and the geographical lay-out of Northern California all come together to make this an incredibly well-rounded read. The visual depth of the writing made it easy to imagine this as a movie.
This is an exceptional read--visually compelling and with a character who is real. I can't wait to read more from Mr. Mercer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I just finished reading Slow Fire and couldn't give Ken Mercer a review of this book other than, outstanding! I read a lot of crime novels and this is one of the best I've read. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Jean Randall
An interesting lead, a pretty good story. A bad guy known from the first. But way too cinematic, not in a good way. Conventional plot turns, when it could have been much more.Published on April 22, 2012 by John Bowes
A great debut novel by Ken Mercer. Using a tried and true formula of failure and redemption, Mercer creates a very sympathetic protagonist that seeks a second chance as Chief of... Read morePublished on May 14, 2011 by ncvol
Okay, I read this book back in March 2010, picked it back up at the library in July 2010 and read about the first 100 pages before I remembered reading it previously (and that is... Read morePublished on August 3, 2010 by Cheryl Stout
The small mountain town of Haydenville, California appears idyllic for backpacking, kayaking and swimming. Unfortunately, tourists are being reported missing and/or found dead. Read morePublished on July 1, 2010 by J. B. Hoyos
I came into this book not knowing if I would like it. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. The Northern California town was unfamiliar but all too real. Read morePublished on June 22, 2010 by Cruncher 9
When an author can get the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end within the first few pages of a novel, you know that he or she is worth the valuable time you will spend... Read morePublished on June 4, 2010 by Bookreporter
Honestly, this is one of the best first novels I've read. The basic idea of a discredited cop getting a job as police chief in a cmall corrupted town certainly is nothing new and... Read morePublished on June 2, 2010 by Neal Reynolds
You would think it's another bad cop from the city trying to survive as the law in a small town when you start reading Slow Fire by Ken Mercer. It is more than that. Read morePublished on May 31, 2010 by grumpydan