“If you like your crime hard and fast, Kalteis is for you.” — The Globe and Mail
Set to the cranking beat and amphetamine buzz of Vancouver’s early punk scene, Zero Avenue follows Frankie Del Rey, a talented and rising punk star who runs just enough dope on the side to pay the bills and keep her band, Waves of Nausea, together. The trouble is she’s running it for Marty Sayles, a powerful drug dealer who controls the Eastside with a fist.
When Frankie strikes up a relationship with Johnny Falco, the owner of one of the only Vancouver clubs willing to give punk a chance, she finds out he’s having his own money problems just keeping Falco’s Nest open. Desperate to keep his club, Johnny raids one of the pot fields Marty Sayles has growing out past Surrey, along Zero Avenue on the U.S. border. He gets away with a pickup load and pays back everybody he owes. Arnie Binz, bass player for Waves of Nausea, finds out about it and decides that was easy enough. But he gets caught by Marty’s crew.
Johnny and Frankie set out to find the missing Arnie, but Marty Sayles is pissed and looking for who ripped off his other field — a trail that leads to Johnny and Frankie.
Set in 1979, Kalteis's grisly, violent fifth crime novel (after 2016's House of Blazes) celebrates the seedy side of Vancouver and the punk scene there. Singer Frankie Del Rey's got musical talent and drive, but to make a buck she's running dope for Marty Sayles, the powerful drug dealer who has the whole Eastside in a fearsome grip. Johnny Falco's pretty sweet on Frankie and his Falco's Nest is one of the few clubs willing to give her band, Waves of Nausea, and other punk players a chance. But Johnny's in debt up to his neck and takes a huge risk to get back in the black. The stakes rise when enforcer Zeke Chamas and henchmen Sticky and Tucker, who tend Marty's pot farm off Zero Avenue, go after Frankie's bass player, Arnie Binz, when he steals some of Marty's illegal harvest. References to actual singers and bands, such as Joey "Shithead" Keithley of D.O.A., will resonate with those who came of age in the late '70s, and if a literary prize existed for depicting the most offensive club lavatories, this novel would win it hands down.