Author: Patrick Quinlan
Publisher: St. Martin's (2006)
“Smoked” is the first novel for Patrick Quinlan, and it’s a thrilling ride that will keep you hanging on the edge of your seat. It will also make you curse the fact that you need sleep – therefore finding it hard to finish it in one night – because any time you put this book down, you’ll be wondering what is going to happen next.
“Smoked” is the story of Smoke Dugan, a retired hit man who stole $ 2.5 million from the mob and has been on the run for a few years. He finds seclusion in the seaside Northeast city of Portland, Maine, and buries the cash in what appears to be a dog’s grave outside of the house he’s living in. But eventually the Mob finds him, and dispatches three assassins to find both Dugan and the stolen money.
One of the three hit men is Denny Cruz, an older guy who is tired of killing people and suddenly finds himself wanting to settle down to a normal life, just like Dugan.
But wait, there’s more. Dugan’s sexy girlfriend, Lola Bell – thirty years his junior – is running from Internet pornographers she beat up when they tried to rape her. The pornographers wind up following her and her roommate, Pamela, at the same time Cruz and his team are chasing Dugan.
But between Dugan using his skills as a bomb maker and the pornographers slowing down the killers, Smoke and Lola keep escaping. The real twist occurs, though, when Cruz falls for Pamela and both he and Smoke become allies. This makes the reader root for Smoke and Cruz, even though they have killed people for money most of their working life.
Quinlan keeps you guessing, and creates a mountain of suspense right from the first chapter. “Smoked” reads quickly and doesn’t waste anyone’s time with fluff to fill pages. It’s a good book to pick up when you know you have a few hours of free time on your hands, like when you’re in the airport or in line at Starbucks.