Every Man a Menace by Patrick Hoffman

HoffmanEveryManQuestion: How does the designer drug MDMA (also known as Ecstasy or Molly) get from its naturally occurring state in Southeast Asian trees to getting snorted up noses in Miami clubs? Answer: Very, very carefully, and through many pairs of grubby (and often blood-stained) hands. Patrick Hoffman explores this supply chain in the pulpy, noir-tinged Every Man a Menace.

An ex-con returns to San Francisco to keep an eye on an erratic dealer, as a favor for his still-incarcerated boss. A Filipina grandmother ponders a power play. In Miami, an Israeli club owner grows depressed with the high-flying lifestyle of a drug-trafficking middleman—until he meets a beautiful and mysterious woman. They, along with a whole slew of unsavory characters are all involved in orchestrating a multi-million dollar shipment of Molly. With this much at stake, things are bound to get ugly.


Patrick Hoffman examines the intricacies of large-scale drug trafficking in a highly thorough manner (before writing he worked both as a public defender and a private investigator, so I suspect he really knows his stuff). The operation works out well, for a while. But when people start making mistakes (honest or otherwise) things take gruesome turns. The best part of this book is the way that that Hoffman captures the quiet desperation of his subjects. Sure there are a handful of “made” men (and one “made” woman), but most of the characters are low-level hoods in way over their heads. People's options narrow, until bad decisions are the only ones left to make. They think they're smart enough to pull off moves they have no business pulling off. They’re ready to leave the trade and go on the straight and narrow—just after this one last shipment, this one last score, this one last hit. On streets this mean, don't expect any happy endings.

- Jake

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