Ash McKenna used to be an amateur P.I.—emphasis on ‘amateur’. Despite good intentions, he made a mess of his life in New York, so tried to build a new one in Portland. But after a traumatic turn of events, he ends up on a commune in the Georgia woods, binge-drinking cheap whiskey and waiting for his passport to flee the country and nightmares that have followed him.
Then a man is found dead. Known only as ‘Crusty Pete’, the commune dweller is sprawled in the dirt, having fallen from a high rope bridge. It’s written off as an accident, but Ash suspects something more sinister. As he looks into Pete’s death, Ash is shocked to find the supposedly peaceful community houses a rogue faction preparing to commit an unspeakable act of violence.
Ash has to make a choice: run, or put his skills to use and try to stop them. But he doesn’t know who to trust, or where the faction is planning to strike. As he struggles to put a stop to the violence, while keeping his own demons at bay, Ash finds that it’s only a matter of time before one or the other puts him down for good.
In Hart's lively third outing for occasional PI Ash McKenna (after City of Rose), Crusty Pete, a member of the rural Georgia commune South Bridge, is dead, killed when a rope bridge breaks under him. It looks like an accident, but Ash is not so sure. Preoccupied with his guilt over questionable past actions of his own and feeling that Pete's death is none of his business anyway, he concentrates on cooking for the commune and preparing to flee as soon as his passport comes through. But events toss him about, bringing in a mysterious cipher, a vague conspiracy, another death, and a black-ops raid from the FBI. Well-realized and interesting characters range from ex-Marine Aesop, who knows everything, to Tibo, the founder of the commune, to Sunny and Moony, attractive ladies who run a little Skype sex business from their trailer. The story zigs and zags and then heads off in yet another direction, keeping one step ahead of the reader until it ends up in an unexpected but satisfying spot.