When I first read the title of this book, I thought it was going to be a story about potheads but it surprised me. Not only is this book filled with facts about the seventies and marijuana, the author is able to put the facts together to make a great story. Killer Weed, this murder mystery, is set in modern day United States. It’s refreshing when you can read a book that puts you in the action of the story right away and fills out the blanks later. Michael Castleman grabs the reader and starts the mystery from the first page.
There are many characters to make the story engaging, but the main characters, Ed and Julie Rosenberg, a married couple, suffer through conflict. Not only in their own personal lives but in their professional lives as well. They both held jobs to which they lost and left them struggling to make ends meet. Ed eventually gets an opportunity to make some money, through his journalism and research work, which puts a strain on their relationship since trouble starts to ensue. To cope, Julie and Ed engage in their own vices – with Ed smoking more pot and Julie drinking a little too much, which also puts a stain on them. The author is able to keep you engaged with the relationship between the characters as well as bring the mystery to life.
The main plot is the murder of Dave Kirsch, a mayoral candidate who intends on legalizing marijuana. Julie has an opportunity to work along side him but with his sudden death, it blows all her financial plans out the window. The author uses the relationship between Julie and Ed and the professional job Ed obtains from a tech billionaire as the subplots.
The setting is descriptive and explains the areas of the city to which Ed travels. As Ed travels through the story, the author describes the setting and the characters as Ed encounters them in his or her own surrounding.
The characters in the story come alive. The detective investigating the story and Ed, who is interviewing and questioning the characters, is vibrant and captivating. The reader is engrossed with finding out what kind of relationship they all had Dave Kirsh as well as what role they played in the hippie movement. Ed Rosenberg is a down to earth character who enjoys smoking pot and at times, I thought he is somewhat of a hypocrite when he watches his wife drinking. If he thinks his wife drinks too much, he should lay off the smoke as well but you could tell that he is also concerned for his partner and his family. He does everything he can to work towards completing a project that is going to take them out of financial distress. The reader learns to warm up to Ed so that he becomes one of your favorite characters.
The dialogue is entertaining, intelligent, and funny. You never know what you’re going to read next, when the characters begin to reminisce about the past full of drugs, alcohol, women, and rock and roll. Michael Castleman keeps the story interesting and the characters alive with his dialogue.
The story is written in the point of view of Ed. As he travels around the city, trying to obtain information on his research as well as trying to answer his own questions about Dave Kirsch’s death, the story remains in his point of view. He takes on a journalistic aspect as he tries to get a hold of the major players of the era and how he pieces the puzzles together. Although the detective is trying to solve the case of the murder, Ed also takes on the role of trying to find answers. Dave was everyone’s friend and the fact that he wanted to legalize pot may have put him into danger.
The reader gets immersed in what the characters are doing. It was hard to put the book down as it is a fast-paced, riveting, roller coaster ride of pleasure. The author makes you feel what Ed is going through and when you think you’re getting to the answer, something else gets thrown in the mix.
Killer Weed is a book that you should add to your bookshelf. It is a must read. Don’t let the name fool you. It is not about using drugs or characters immersed in drug use, it is an intelligent, fictional murder mystery that will keep you reading until you can’t put it down.
Jenn Andrew, Freelance Writer and Book Reviewer