From Publishers Weekly
Drug smuggling in the Pacific Northwest provides the backdrop for Waite's promising debut. Phil Hunt leads a quiet life with his wife, Nora, raising horses near Auburn, Wash., except when he's helping make drug deliveries through the mountains to Canada. Twenty years earlier, Phil killed a man during a botched robbery, and though he did his time, he's still serving the emotional sentence. Living in nearby Silver Lake is deputy Bobby Drake, the son of a legendary lawman who got arrested smuggling drugs just like Phil. Disaster results after Bobby, who hasn't seen the elder Drake in 10 years, inadvertently stumbles on Phil and his new partner during the middle of a drug exchange. Soon, Phil is on the run not only from the law but also a ruthless assassin sent by the smugglers. Waite eloquently depicts men in turmoil for whom the choice isn't necessarily between right and wrong but where to draw the line. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* A few years ago, just as the creases were starting to form on his chiseled face, Clint Eastwood would have been perfect for the role of Phil Hunt, a horse farmer and ex-convict in Washington State who supplements his meager income with the occasional spot of drug smuggling—nothing too dramatic, just picking up a few bales of weed dropped into the mountains, strapping them onto his horse, and riding the load back to civilization. Then a deputy marshal, Bobby Drake, whose father was also in the marijuana business, stumbles across one of Hunt’s horseback pick-ups, and though Hunt escapes their first encounter, Drake, with a single-mindedness reminiscent of Lieutenant Gerard on the trail of Richard Kimble, sets off after his man. Ah, but this is noir-tinged fiction, not TV melodrama, and standing between Drake and Hunt is a psycho-killer hit man, hired by Hunt’s drug bosses, who enjoys his work way too much (think Robert Mitchum in Cape Fear). Hunt is cut from the western rugged-individualist mold, but there is vulnerability there, too, just behind the eyes, and when he tells his wife, long-suffering Nora, that “we’ll figure this out, and we’ll be all right,” we hear the determination, but we also hear the tired resignation of a man forced to make a stand that may be beyond him. In a blood-spattered chase that winds from the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington to Seattle and back again, first-novelist Waite never eases the throttle, but even at high speed, it’s the interplay between the characters that gives the novel its power. An outstanding debut. --Bill Ott