Ken Mercer brings back troubled hero Will Magowan in his new crime novel, "East on Sunset." And life gets no easier for the ex-cop, ex-drug addict.
Magowan, introduced in Mercer's "Slow Fire," was kicked off the Los Angles police force when he started using drugs. But things have finally started looking up. He's clean and sober and has a job he loves. He's also back with his wife, and they are expecting a baby.
Trouble arrives in the form of Erik Crandall, fresh out of prison and determined to collect the $500,000 he feels he's owed from the drugs taken from him when he was arrested. The drugs disappeared before his trial.
Crandall believes Magowan stole them, and he concludes that Magowan owes him the money. He is so bulked up on steroids, he seems more monster than man. He begins to crank up his harassment of Magowan and his wife.
Magowan has no recollection of arresting Crandall, although he was so heavily into drugs back then, his memory may be faulty.
His reputation within the police department is a problem, and when he asks for help with Crandall, the cops are reluctant to help him. Forced to try to get to the bottom of Crandall's claims, Magowan finds there may be some truth in what the ex-con is saying.
Mercer carefully moves his plot forward, drawing out the tension and adding some surprising twists along the way.
"East on Sunset" is filled with realistic characters - even the insane and menacing Crandall. Especially touching is Magowan's struggle to sort out a past that is clouded by his use of drugs, the people he should and shouldn't trust, and his struggle to stay straight.
Mercer gives readers plenty to stick around for, from Magowan's problems with his job interview to the final selection of a name for his unborn son.