BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION + GRIZZLY SEASON
Author: S.W. Lauden
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Release Dates: October 2015 + September 2016
Bounced out of the police force after a dubious shooting, punk-turned-cop Greg Salem – whose cult ex-band gives Bad Citizen Corporation its title – finds himself assuming investigative duties once more when a beloved ex-bandmate is murdered at a show. Accompanied by his flaky drug-addict drummer Marco, Salem tries to keep his personal demons at bay long enough to track down the killer, and redeem his ravaged reputation. The bullet-strewn back-story – and indeed Salem’s battle with alcohol dependency – may recall a So.Cal Scudder, but Lauden’s book actually follows in the sandy, surf-noir footprints of writers such as Don Winslow and Kem Nunn. Like his predecessors, Lauden manages to give the story an impressively claustrophobic feel, which is defiantly at odds with the sun-kissed, beach-side backdrop.
Bad Citizen Corporation is a highly enjoyable series opener, but Lauden kicks the series up a notch with Grizzly Season, which proves to be a creepier, more malevolent follow-up, in which illicit pornography shoots, rural drug farms and mutant drug cocktails loom large. In the sequel, Salem and Marco retreat to a remote cabin in the backend of the Angeles National Forest, only to have their peaceful sojourn shattered after stumbling across an expansive marijuana farm called Grizzly Flats. Charismatic drug lord Magnus Ursus is a great antagonist, and the character of Salem actually functions better when on a collision course with a menacing adversary, rather than chasing shadows, as in the first book.
Lauden is a smart writer with an enviable mainstream sensibility, and given the impressive step up in quality between the first and second books, I’m expecting big things from the third Greg Salem book, Hang Time, which is due later this year.