Friday, July 18, 2014

Review of The Carrier by Preston Lang (280 Steps, 2014)

Cyril works part-time as a web developer and the rest of time as a illicit courier carrying drugs and dirty cash.  His rule is to always play it straight -- no guns, no speeding, no skimming, no company, and be cool with everyone.  When a young woman, Willow, hits on him at a bar he ends up in his motel room facing a gun and demands for money he doesn’t yet have.  But she’s not his only problem - two men are shadowing him with the same intent.  Meanwhile, Duane, his older brother and a more senior member of the same drugs gang is having his own problems with his half-deranged boss, who has a canny, scheming Puerto Rican girlfriend.  Despite their initial encounter, Cyril and Willow form an uneasy alliance and start to plot a new life together, but first they have to collect the package and then disappear.

The Carrier is a road-trip, crime caper that follows the travails of a laidback illicit courier as he travels from Massachusetts to Iowa to pick up a payment for drugs.  From the get-go Cyril is in trouble, having met and been held up by a sultry young woman intent on grabbing the money for herself, but who strikes before he’s collected the package.  They continue the trip together, but quickly come to realise they’re being tracked by two losers looking for an easy payday.  The plot thus unfolds as a cat and mouse game, both for Cyril and his brother, Duane, who is finally coming to realise that his place a little higher up in the drugs gang has become somewhat tenuous.  The story rattles along at a nice pace and has some nice noir touches as the caper unfolds into a lethal game of pass the parcel. 

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