Downtown Denver, Colorado.
Peter Ash is wearing an armoured vest, has a pistol strapped to his leg, a semi-automatic rifle by his side, and a large stash of drugs money behind him. It's hot, the static is buzzing and he's trying not to think about what happened last week.
Ash is riding shotgun in a truck leased to Heavy Metal Protection, a security firm providing exclusive services the growers of Colorado's newest cash crop: cannabis. Legal in the state, but illegal in many others, the industry exists in a legislative grey area - banks are unable to extend facilities to growers without breaking federal law. Which means this is an industry that runs almost entirely on cash - and an industry running on cash is an industry uniquely vulnerable to crime.
Just seven days ago, Heavy Metal lost an entire vehicle, crew and cargo. Literally, lost. As in, disappeared without a trace. Armed robbery? Double homicide? Whatever, Ash is there to make sure it doesn't happen again.
After eight years active duty as a marine, there is no doubt Ash has the skill set for this job. But his hard-won combat experience has come at a price: a nervous system fused on high alert. This is real damage - a crippling liability in civilian life... but a survival trait in a combat zone.
Nick Petrie received his MFA in fiction from the University of Washington, won a Hopwood Award for short fiction, and his story 'At the Laundromat' won the 2006 Short Story Contest in the The Seattle Review. His first novel, The Drifter, won the International Thriller Writers Award and the Barry for Best First Novel.