Inverarity (inverarity) wrote,

Book Review: Every Man a Menace, by Patrick Hoffman

Drug deals gone bad, skipping between various doomed characters.

Every Man a Menace

Atlantic Monthly Press, 2016, 288 pages

San Francisco is about to receive the biggest delivery of MDMA to hit the West Coast in years. Raymond Gaspar, just out of prison, is sent to the city to check in on the increasingly erratic dealer expected to take care of distribution. In Miami, the man responsible for getting the drugs across the Pacific has just met the girl of his dreams - a woman who can't seem to keep her story straight. And thousands of miles away in Bangkok, someone farther up the supply chain is about to make a phone call that will put all their lives at risk. Stretching from the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia to the Golden Gate of San Francisco, Every Man a Menace offers an unflinching account of the making, moving, and selling of the drug known as Molly - pure happiness sold by the brick, brought to market by bloodshed and betrayal.

Every Man a Menace is a straightforward gritty mutiple POV crime caper. From the guy just out of prison sent to check on some deals by his patron, to an Israeli dealer who finds himself in over his head with Asian triads, to a Brazilian-born con-woman of many accents and many schemes, they're all deep into the underworld and none of them are particularly sympathetic.

All their stories tie together with deals, double-deals, misunderstandings and betrayals, and a lot of people winding up dead, with the central MacGuffin being a $50 million shipment of MDMA ("Molly") to San Francisco. There is sex and violence and drugs, and the plot winds together effectively.

Ultimately, however, I failed to really care about the outcome. After the first few chapters, it's clear there is no "protagonist" per se — we're just getting different parts of a larger story told to us from the perspective of several different actors. They're all criminals, no one is a hero, and no one is immune to getting a bullet in the head. The technique is effective, it just didn't interest me that much.

Quick read but mostly forgettable.

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