Caffeine and Nicotine: Eric Weule

This is a deceptive novel. It purports to be a crime fiction, but in actuality it’s a great deal more than that. Primarily, I think, it’s about cleaning up the world.There are two main characters, each with their own POVs: Jackie, a strong but secretly damaged individual who has forged a life for herself as a surf-loving eco-minded entrepreneur.

Owning a beachfront coffee business, she trawls the beach every morning, frustratedly taking pictures of all the litter and detritus she picks up on the way, assiduously binning it before she starts work. Soon she becomes embroiled in the affairs of an employee and her journey to the other mc, Kelly the beach-bum detective, begins.

But this is deception. He isn’t really a beach bum at all, but a super-chill, deterministic sort of chap – guided by spirits (not the alcoholic kind) – and who has such a handle on the world, even Booger the dog listens (and, in his own way, replies.) At the start of the novel, we find Kelly binning his own form of detritus: the sort of waste HE combs the world to eradicate.

It’s this counterpointing that makes the novel so interesting and unusual. I also love it when the setting becomes almost a character in itself. Sun, surf, coffee, smoke: the whole thing positively shimmered with Pacific vibes and beat culture.

Not what I expected at all. A gem of a book that’s a cut-above, Eric Weule. A cut above.

Kelly Jenks knows the dead boy is going to show him something awful. Jonathan is seven. He never wears shoes, and his feet are always clean. He cruises between this world and the next in a 1967 Cougar XR7. Jonathan has a message for Kelly: There is a faceless man preying on the city’s homeless.

Jackie Carmichael hires Kelly to find an employee who has vanished. The case appears simple at first, but Kelly soon discovers that the missing girl is not who she seems. As Kelly attempts to separate the facts from the lies, Jonathan brings him another message: Jackie Carmichael is hiding something.

With the beaches, mansions, and dive bars of Orange County, CA as the backdrop, Caffeine & Nicotine is a dark and brutal look at what happens when the dead pass sentence.

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