Book Review: Smoke City by Keith Rosson

Last year, Keith Rosson released The Mercy of the Tide. I dove into the book not knowing what to expect since he was an author I hadn’t read before. There’s always that moment when you try something new and you aren’t sure how it will go. However, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the book. When word got out that he had a new book, Smoke City, on the way, I knew instantly that it would be something I wanted to read.

Smoke City tells a tale of three strangers hitting the road together, traveling from Oregon down to Los Angeles, CA. Marvin Deitz is a complex character who has so much history to him that you never stop learning something new as you read through the book. Mike Vale is a bit more rough around the edges when we first meet him, but things smooth out along the way. Casper makes himself the third man on the road trip by hiding in the van before Mike and Marvin make it out of Oregon.

The three are an unlikely group, but that’s what makes the story so compelling. One wouldn’t think that a story that largely involves being stuck in a vehicle would be exciting, but the three different personalities and everything they see along the way makes it work. Not to mention, the “smokes” that are causing chaos in California play an interesting role.

What Rosson does is he makes you care about these guys who aren’t the best guys in the world, but they also aren’t the worst. Mike has so many problems piling up that it’s hard not to feel bad for him even if he had control over at least some of those problems. He writes these complex characters in a way that doesn’t feel dense. You aren’t getting everything all at once. Instead, things are coming piece by piece, just as if you were in the van with them and getting to know them. It’s a clever way to rope you in.

Smoke City is a journey. Three people who feel like they’ve hit rock bottom or just need a fresh start make a trip that changes all of their lives. Additionally, Marvin is a reincarnation of Geoffroy Thérage, which provides a separate storyline detailed in his journals. He doesn’t reveal why exactly he’s in LA until he tries explaining it to Casper at one of the studio parking lots. There’s always this anticipation with Marvin because he’s aware early on that he’s only supposed to have a limited time to live. The book keeps you on your toes and it all pays off in the end. This is a satisfying read, so be sure to check it out.

Smoke City is out on January 23, 2018 and you can grab a copy on Amazon.