★★★★★ Thorne, a loan shark set to settle up with one Pete Finn, arrives in Portland, Oregon, to find his target at home with bullet holes in his chest. The ensuing journey will take him through seedy non-profits, skinhead white supremacists, gun-crazy drug dealers, and the evil underpinnings of a squeaky-clean city most of America associates with liberal millennials. Thorne must team up with his old boxing buddy (and rival investigator) Dynamite Anderson to get to the bottom of this case before the web of crime closes in.
Readers of Thorne in the Rose City had better buckle up, because once Justin A. McWhirter’s novel starts—with a literal bang—it doesn’t stop. McWhirter is a superbly talented writer, and his gift for dialogue and characterization bleeds into every word in the novel. Clocking in at just under 200 pages, Thorne in the Rose City easily packs double the story into its modest page count without being overly busy. The references to real-life politicians and events are never trite or intrusive, and the author’s clear passion behind the narrative helps Thorne’s voice ring true. Thorne is actually quite funny, and this light touch keeps the story from getting too heavy. Thorne in the Rose City is perfect for readers who appreciate stories with a deeply felt sense of place; a pulsating, thrilling plot; and the value of a few uninterrupted hours, because McWhirter’s novel is impossible to put down.