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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 36/100: Brown Sugar in Minnesota by Joe Field

Brown Sugar in Minnesota (Cooper Smith Book 1) - Joe Field

It was a pleasure to work on this book as a line editor and to be a part of ushering a strong new writer's voice into the world.

Brown Sugar is a thrill ride through the small towns and rural areas of Minnesota as radio journalist Cooper Smith attempts to track a story about a massive drug ring run through the state's reservations. As a reporter myself, I could recognize Field's understanding of the balance between pressure and satisfaction, the crunch between deadline and ambition. The accessible writing style is peppered with moments of humor and colorful characters that keep the serious subject matter from weighting down an exciting ride.

I found Field's characters to be especially well-rendered, from bit characters like the hardcore Republican grandmother and ex-Navy Seal friend to the main players like the ambitious but compassionate Cooper. But the book my shine most in its examination of the drug lords, who are not depicted as one-dimensional goons but rather men with complicated pasts and motivations that are really driven on by the same thing that drives all of us -- fear, desire for stability, ambition.

The narrative weaves between the first-person perspective of Cooper and the third-person perspective of the men involved in the drug ring, and the pacing is such that the reader always feels in the right place at the right time. If you're looking for a thriller that is a bit off the beaten path both in setting and characters, Field's new series might be one to watch.