Review of GRIZZLY SEASON by S.W. Lauden
Greg Salem was a punk singer until his guitarist brother/bandmate died in a suspicious suicide. Then he became a cop. S.W. Lauden’s taut, gritty BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION (BCC) opens with Greg losing his badge and gun after a controversial shooting, and being thrown into a world of shit when his best friend is murdered holding a microphone that was supposed to be in Greg’s hand. BCC is a fascinating look at Los Angeles, with the relatively peaceful life of wealthy beach communities juxtaposed by the sharp-edges of cops, gangs, and rock and roll. Salem himself is a bit of an enigma: He’s a former punk, a former drunk, a (kinda) former cop, a surfer, and a half-assed private eye, working on the left side of the law. At the close of BCC, Salem has taken for a cabin in the forest to find himself, with recently-clean junkie (and former drummer) Marco at his side.
GRIZZLY SEASON opens shortly after the action of BCC, and soon finds Greg and Marco stumbling into a marijuana farm run by a blank-eyed cult. Tied to a garbage pile, the pair awake to the grunts of a black bear sniffing them and a group of people thoroughly enjoying their peril. We are introduced to Magnus Ursus, cult leader with a bit of Manson and a bit of Barnum, a strain of high-test weed that’s setting the streets abuzz, and a bunch of women named Ursula. And, we’re off to the races.
In our recent interview with Lauden (finish this, then go read it…you’re already here…don’t be rude), the big homie Dave Wahlman put it best: “(BCC) felt like the raw demo of a band. GRIZZLY SEASON feels like the same band with an indie label behind them so the story is still raw but polished.” Hammer meet nail. BCC was great, but it wasn’t perfect, and I think Lauden would agree. It meandered a bit. GRIZZLY SEASON does no such thing. I don’t like to use the words “page-turner,” but this thing speeds along.
Between thrilling action, a terribly interesting protagonist, fascinating and terrifying villains, and an extremely well-drawn supporting cast (personally, I am a little in love with Salem’s ex-girlfriend, Junior…of course, I’ve also recently decided that it is only safe to fall in love with fictional characters…so, don’t listen to me), GRIZZLY SEASON delivers in a big way. Big action, big guns, lots of blood spilled, sex, drugs…all of the fun shit. On top of that, you gain a better perspective of Salem and leave dying to know what happens next. It’s everything you want the middle of a trilogy to be.
You can go read the interview now. Kisses.