I’ve been a big fan of Matt Phillips since I first read THREE KINDS OF FOOL and his novella, BAD LUCK CITY. I’d go as far as saying they’re two of the best noir books I’ve read in recent years, and COUNTDOWN is right up there. Cannabis sales have been decriminalised in California, but it’s not that simple. If a cannabis selling “business” put their money in the bank and it (possibly in the future) is deemed as criminal activity, then the cash could be seized, leading to the “business” losing their huge haul of cash. This has resulted in rumours of money laundering and private security firms collecting bag loads of cash. You can imagine lock-ups full of the green stuff. The money isn’t protected by the banks or the cops, so someone is eventually gonna come up with the idea of stealing the money. Step up Matt Phillips with his loaded shotgun in the trunk of his car.
Green-fingered Jessie has a knack for horticulture. She can grow some top grade weed, which she sells in her (off the grid) cannabis shop, with business partner, LaDon. She has the hots for Glanson, a Iraq Vet who works private security, collecting the cannabis cash and storing it in a unit. Then there’s Glanson’s ex-army buddy, Echo. The bad guy! You get the gist?
Matt Phillips sets it up nicely. He gathers a group of characters. Some you instantly like, others, you know are gonna do bad things. Phillips might care for his characters, but he isn’t too sentimental when it comes to keeping them alive. There’s some good twists and I was kept guessing on the outcome right to the end. If, like me, you’re already a fan of Phillips, then you aren’t gonna want to miss COUNTDOWN. If you’ve never read anything by him before and you like your crime hardboiled then do yourself a favour and pick up this book (and have a damn good time). (Jack Bantry)