Crime and Drugs on Trip City Street
By Timothy Louis Baker
Strategic Book Publishing 2009
Reviewed by Randall Radic
Not too long ago, Cormac McCarthy wrote The Road. It was a great book and McCarthy is a genius. In 2006, Vintage Books – which is a part of the Random House empire – published McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited. The publisher described The Sunset Limited as “a novel in dramatic form.” Translation: it was written in dialogue as if for the theater. Whatever one cared to call it, the technique was effective. Especially in the hands of someone as gifted as Cormac McCarthy.
Timothy Louis Baker did just the opposite in his new novel. It’s called Crime and Drugs on Trip City Street. And to all intents and purposes Baker has – in effect – taken a dramatic screenplay and turned it into a novel. And like McCarthy, Baker is neat-handed as he weaves a story of domestic terrorists plotting to take over the government.
The terrorists finance their conspiracy by means of a continual criminal enterprise – the manufacture, distribution and sale of illegal substances. Drugs. To reveal much more of the story would spoil it. So what happens and how it all turns out won’t be mentioned. However, the plot is tightly wrapped and rockets along to an explosive ending.
If you want something to compare it to, think Reservoir Dogs, the bloody, intricate and action-packed movie made by Tarantino some years ago. Which means that Crime and Drugs on Trip City Street would make a hecka-good movie. In fact, the reviewer suggests Jean Claude Van Damme, Christopher Lambert and Rutger Hauer would be perfect as the principal bad guys. Ridley Scott or Tarantino or Rodriguez could direct, adding their personal chromatic touches to an already dark story. The interplay between directorial coloration and thematic blackness would produce a subtle turbulence.
Baker’s growth as a writer is evident in Crime and Drugs. He’s gone from the charm of miscellaneous stream-of-consciousness to the sharper images of a more traditional style of writing. And his ear for dialogue is skillfully displayed in this latest effort. Which means it’s an easy book to read, because it resonates with action and a linguistic sartorial flair. Which means it’s all dressed up and it has someplace to go.
On the Read-O-Meter, which ranges from one star (pitiful) to five stars (startling), Crime and Drugs on Trip City Street comes in at 5 stars.