Patrick Hoffman’s Every Man a Menace is everything I want from a crime novel: suspenseful, dialogue that cuts yet isn’t cute, and an attempt at a realistic plot. It has all of those things and more. Writers can take note.
A beloved work from the guys at The Watch podcast, where I’ve gotten many a good recommendation, this book never takes its foot off the gas. But not in a pulpy, cheap thrills kind of way. These characters are real, the circumstances are legit, and the atmosphere claustrophobic. Everything centers around this massive drug shipment that’s coming in from overseas to San Francisco. The tension builds ’til the last page.
At the heart of it, Every Man a Menace is a book about how the ecosystem of drug dealing gets shifted around. You know the guy on the street is probably not acquiring his wares straight from the biggest cartels. There are layers to the system that moves from how it gets made to how it gets used. The book looks at the players in the system, from the lowliest hustlers to the biggest kingpins and how their stories intertwine around the shipments.
If I have a knock on the book, it’s the structure. It’s told in a 5-part way with different POVs for each part (some parts have multiple character POVs). Just when I feel like I’m getting invested in a character, I get jerked out of the story for the next one. Not sure that style worked as effectively as Hoffman wanted it to. Or maybe he’s just so good at writing characters that I miss them when I’m finished. At any rate, this is an awesome book with a chance to wind up on my end-of-the-year “Best Of” list.