When Philadelphia narcotics detective Doyle Carrick loses his mother and step-father within weeks of each other, he gains a twenty-day suspension for unprofessional behavior and instructions to lay low at the unfamiliar house he’s inherited in rural Pennsylvania.
Feeling restless and out of place, Doyle is surprised to find himself falling for his new neighbor, Nola Watkins, who’s under pressure to sell her organic farm to a large and mysterious development company. He’s more surprised to see high-powered drug dealers driving the small-town roads—dealers his bosses don’t want to hear about.
But when the drug bust Doyle’s been pushing for goes bad and the threats against Nola turn violent, Doyle begins to discover that what’s growing in the farmland around Philadelphia is much deadlier than anything he could have imagined . . .
Quick, clever, and terrifying, Jon McGoran’s Drift is a commercial thriller in the tradition of Nelson DeMille’s Plum Island.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have been following and writing about trends in food and agriculture for many years. As a fan of thrillers with massive crazy evil plots, and a writer with one of those minds that is always hatching them, I couldn’t help notice how the news about food in recent years has read like a thriller, or even science fiction: genetic modification, transgenics, cloning, irradiation, and the release of genetically engineered foods into the environment. When I had the ideas at the center of Drift, I knew it was a book I had to write.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Inspiration for characters comes from so many different places, it is almost impossible to know. There is plenty of me in my main character, Doyle Carrick, but in many ways we are very, very different. Nola and Moose are definitely informed by some of the great young people I know who are working hard trying to change the way our food is grown and produced.
The surveillance van smelled of old cheeseburgers, coffee, and me. Parked in front of a vacant storefront in North Philly, I was watching on a little screen as my partner, Danny Tennison, stood just around the corner, making a buy from a scumbag named Dwayne Rowan.
Rowan was almost out of stock, and Danny was trying to find out about the re-up. Rowan didn’t have the faintest idea Danny was a cop, and he wasn’t trying to be discreet, either. He was just a dumbass.
That’s when my phone rang. The whole thing was being recorded, but I still needed to be paying attention. There was no chance in hell a guy like Rowan was going to start trouble, but I was still Danny’s backup.
The call was from Frank, my mom’s husband. She was pretty sick by then, between the cancer and the chemo and the infections. I’d been trying to wrap up the case so I could visit her for a day or two, but things were conspiring to keep me in Philly. Things like Rowan.
“Oh, you know, like, in a couple days,” Rowan told Danny.
“So what, you mean like Tuesday?” Danny asked, without a trace of the exasperation I was feeling. “Or like Wednesday?”
“Yeah, that’s it,” Rowan replied.
“What is it, Frank?” I said, answering the phone in an exaggerated whisper so he’d know this was not a good time.
“Well, which is it?” Danny asked. “Tuesday or Wednesday?”
“Wait,” Rowan said. “What day is it today?”
“Monday,” Danny told him.
“Right… so probably later, then.”
“It’s your mother,” Frank said. His voice sounded strange.
“You mean, like Wednesday or like Thursday?” Danny said, finally showing a trace of the aggravation I’d been feeling for half an hour. He suddenly sounded very far away.
“What about her, Frank?”
“It’s another infection. A bad one. She’s back in the hospital . . . I think this is it.” His voice cracked, and I thought I heard him sob. He cleared his throat. “If you’re going to come up, you need to come up now.”
Rowan was babbling on in the background: “Could still be Tuesday, man. I forget. What night is the wrestling on?”
As the phone fell away from my face, I thought: My mom is going to die while this fuck-head tries to get his days straight. I don’t remember thinking much after that. I got out the far side of the van and walked around the corner, straight up to where Danny and Rowan were standing.
Danny’s eyes widened, then his face fell back into the same heavy-lidded suspicious gaze as Rowan’s. We’d been working pretty hard the past few days, so I looked rough enough to pass for someone making a buy. As Rowan looked over at me, ready to take my order, Danny flashed me one last glare to remind me how much time and energy he’d invested in his cover.
The first thing I did when I walked up, I popped Danny in the face. I didn’t pull it either — I popped him and dropped him. I knew and he knew: If I was going to pull something, it had to look real.
Rowan yelped like I’d stepped on his tail. He got a gun out from somewhere, bobbling it until I took it away from him and pressed it against his temple.
“When’s the re-up?” I asked quietly.
“Tuesday,” he said with great certainty. “Um… six o’clock.”
I was about to ask him where when he said, “In the parking lot behind Charlie B’s.”
I figured, what the fuck: “Who’s your supplier?”
He didn’t even pause. “Marcus Draper.”
Jon McGoran is the author of Drift, and its Writing as D. H. Dublin, he is the author of the forensic crime thrillers Freezer Burn, Blood Poison, and Body Trace, from Penguin Books. His short fiction, nonfiction and satire have appeared in a variety of publications and anthologies. He is a member of the Mystery Writers Association, the International Association of Crime Writers, and the International Thriller Writers, and a founding member of the Liars Club. He has been writing about food and sustainability for over twenty years, first as Communications Director at Weavers Way Co-op, and editor and publisher of the monthly newspaper, The Shuttle, and later as editor in chief of Grid, a magazine covering issues of sustainability. Jon McGoran is represented by Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.