Rating: 3 stars
James Young is tired of living for living’s sake. His own parents seemed to have forgotten who they once were, embroiling themselves in life’s daily grind. Even his best friend Greg works his life away in the family business because it’s “the right thing to do”.
Looking for a way to escape, James flees the family home to attend law school in Miami—fulfilling yet another expectation, rather than choice.
From orientation to the first day of class, James’ desire to “live alive” becomes more urgent as he is caught up in a swirling sea of students, blindly following a lifeless path of materialistic means like sheep to the slaughter.
After being in the wrong place at the wrong time, James finds himself face-to-face with Claude, a French drug dealer who offers him an opportunity to live outside the box.
Joseph Rakowski’s debut novel takes the reader into a rather tame version of the Miami drug trade. Claude is an unconventionally fair and generous drug lord who has found a way to corner the market on cocaine. Not only does he have the purest product, but it seems the only thing keeping him from catapulting to the top of the Miami drug world is having a delivery man in a suit—a simple concept that James easily fills.
The job seems basic enough: driving to specific locations and giving the person the product. However, James—given the code name Gabriel—apparently has a special talent, because not only do people pay thousands of dollars for his efforts, but his street cred quickly spreads, prompting an unimaginable increase in demand as every drug user from housewife to politician clamor for the services of the be-suited drug runner.
Though the concept is a little far-fetched and plot-line events a bit too convenient, Rakowski does a good job of staying the course and keeping the story moving forward. Character development is decent, despite secondary characters being a bit on the thin side; although, not to the point of undermining the overall intention.
Despite its weak points, Rakowski’s first effort is fairly solid, as he successfully creates a cohesive and entertaining story that is engaging enough to keep the pages turning. With a bit more time and experience, Joseph Rakowski could be one to watch.
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Black Rose Writing (June 7, 2012)