Writing in the noir style with sharp, clipped dialog, McFetridge tosses his hat in the ring for the second time to claim the title with this Toronto-based novel. Enjoying a considerable renaissance, noir thrillers are fast-paced, usually brutal and, in this case, filled with extreme characters, good guys and bad guys clearly defined. There are people flying off balconies, grafters and cons, sophisticated gangs, and a police force struggling to keep up and riddled with corruption.
Gangs and drugs are a potent mix, drug-related crime long since expanded to an international front, the kind of money passing through Canada tempting for anyone. McFetridge mixes a potent brew: Gord Bergeron, recently retuned to the force after a bereavement leave; his new partner, the enigmatic and acerbic Armstrong; an association of colorful homicide and narcotics cops; an industrious ex-stripper whose way of life is supported by a vigorous marijuana business; and a stranger on the scene, a newcomer offering to supply weed in great quantities, seemingly oblivious to the danger he courts from organized crime.
All of these people are humanized, the day-to-day dramas of their worlds integrated into the Toronto scene. Sharon Macdonald, still on house arrest for another week, is worried about her pot supply, her grow rooms perhaps spotted when police swarm all over her building after an Iranian takes a dive from the roof, landing on the windshield of an SUV in the alley, the startled occupants staring at the manís smashed face after he plummets to the earth.
Her current supply fronted by a local biker gang gone business organization, Sharon (whose daughter runs the product to customers while her mother is on house arrest) is uncomfortable with her new deal but simultaneously intrigued with the new man on the scene who may hold the key to all her problems.
This guy seems too good to be true. Soon Sharon is tasked with learning about his connections. On a tightrope of her own making, Sharon is caught between her old connections and history and the possibility of a far different future with Ray, the new wheeler and dealer.
As in any respectable noir thriller, the plot accelerates, vivid and unconventional characters rising in a tidal wave of conflicting agendas, cops and crooks, ending in a conflagration that leaves the ground littered with bodies - and unanswered questions. Balancing the priorities of law enforcement with an endless variety of criminals who inhabit Toronto, drugs, politics and corruption are commonplace, a fertile environment for profit and endless demand. This is supply-side economics at its best, good and bad guys jockeying for control of an out-of-control city where everyone is on the lookout for opportunity.