The Glue Guy: The Zoo Crew Series Book 4
Deep in the heart of winter, things are beginning to shift for the Zoo Crew. Drake Bell is wrapping up his last days in law school and preparing to take the bar exam. Kade Keuhl has finally relented and agreed to apply for his private investigator’s license. The ski lift at the local Snow Plaza has grounded everybody from hitting the slopes. And Emily, Drake's former college flame, is back in town looking to make him an offer that could alter everything moving forward.
A hundred miles east of Missoula, just outside of Butte, the mansion of reclusive billionaire Wes Koenig is burned to the ground. A radical new accelerant is used to reduce the place to rubble in a fraction of expected time, leaving local law enforcement stumped and heightening the impetus to apprehend whoever is responsible.
Working under the constraints of expectations and growing unrest, a much deep story unfolds than anybody anticipated. What started as a simple case of arson soon begins to stretch back a decade in length, encompassing land deals gone bad, deep personal ideologies, and activism taken to its ugly extreme.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
You know you’re in the hands of an accomplished thriller writer when he can get you lost just in the rhythms and pacing of the storytelling. The beginnings of the chapters have one word sentences, some strung together three at a time into stand-alone paragraphs. Just alternating throughout the scenario building between phrases, complete sentences, fragments and fragments of fragments, he’s able to create suspense and knuckle biting tension, or set mood and atmosphere, like using a musical score to undergird his lyrics. To get this playful with what you do, to be so fluid with it, that’s when competent writing starts to become art. I just finished chapter two—and it’s worth mentioning that these are—typical to the genre—short 4 page chapters—and already I know I’m in capable hands. That’s usually how it goes with these things.
By chapter three I’m thinking he’s not so much writing as painting with words. Yes, he’s storytelling, but he lets what seems like poetry bubble up as if the champagne would just be flat without these bubbles. The “poetry” is what you’d get if Quentin Tarantino or perhaps Elmore Leonard and Hemingway sat down to establish how a hair-raising mood can be done with just a few word flourishes.
Red silhouettes against a blackened sky. The rough outline of what had been a palatial house hours before.
You get the idea. What I’m really digging with his approach is I’m having fun with the story. Stories can be brilliant, engaging, profound, fast-paced… everything you want in a story, and still, somehow, not be fun. And fun for me is the most important element a book can have—that will allow it to survive the absence of most everything else.
This is, I believe, the fourth Zoo Crew novel, which caused me some concern initially, as I’m jumping in late to the series. It turned out to be a total non-issue, as the author does a more than satisfactory job of orienting you to the players and the nature of the Zoo Crew dynamic. “A bigger crew of misfits you couldn’t find. Worlds apart in the slices of the social strata they come from.” I’m paraphrasing, by the way; that’s not a quote. The alchemy between the college teens turns out to be just right for their coming adventure.
The Zoo Crew youths have Montana written all over them; they spend the year round alternating between outdoor activities. While we’re on the subject of Montana, the author does a great job of letting the locals and settings and feel of life in Montana seep through each of the pages of the book; the story has a great sense of place, conveyed not just in the characters, but stitched into every element of the story; it’s more than mere window dressing; it’s a bona fide character in the story.
In true thriller fashion, we’re introduced to a number of characters in act 1 through different story threads. You can tell from the poignancy of the characterizations and the nature of the dramas they’re involved with that each story thread includes a piece of the puzzle, you just can’t quite figure out how the pieces fit together. The trick at this point is to get the reader to want to puzzle it out and to keep reading because they can’t put the book down until the puzzle does come together. I say “the trick” because though the formulas are tried and true, nothing’s guaranteed; you still need to stir some magic into the recipe. Clearly the magic was there, because I found myself reading faster and faster as I leafed through the chapters.
I was intrigued initially by the house of a prominent figure burning to the ground, and the fact that the good guys investigating the case and the bad guys who did the crime are both thinking, “Hmm, couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.” Lol. Suddenly I’m intrigued about a person whom I know very little about just by the fact that he’s managed to draw such animosity from both sides. It’s still the barest of charcoal drawings at this point. But as the details start getting colored in chapter by chapter, what emerges is an ever-more engrossing story that weirdly brings the most unlikely people together across great stretches of time in a very high stakes game.
We’re just past 90 pages into the book, coming to the end of act 1, when the zoo crew finally gets fired up. And they’re mobilizing to defend “the glue guy” –the one everyone thinks is guilty—including the reader. Drake is running point, with the Zoo crew the friends he unwinds with as his investigations heat up, to help him gain some perspective. What follows is a race between both sides, prosecutorial and defense, to dig up enough evidence with their investigations to tilt the outcome of the pending case/trial one way or the other. The match would seem a bit uneven. On the prosecutorial side is a seasoned attorney, and a detective with something to prove, the career-defining case he’s been looking for, for over a decade. Pitted against that is Drake, not yet quite out of law school. And just about nothing else because the defendant can’t afford to pay him, far less any help Drake might want to bring in. The ensuing David and Goliath clash between opposing attorneys makes for rather compelling reading, even before the dirt starts flying. The plot twists and turns with each new piece of evidence coming in, ratcheting up the tension and the excitement.
Who is Drake out to save exactly? Some guy is driving by at the time of the arson and murder of the man nobody liked, and is caught on a traffic cam. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He claims he has no connection to the arson or the murder case. Drake does some preliminary investigatory work and agrees. But his actual innocence is neither here nor there; it’s a matter of what Drake can or can’t prove. So he has to dig into the case more, into the out and out lies and half-told truths for what lies beneath. It’s when he starts digging into things he shouldn’t that things get explosive.
Fun highpoints for me included seeing Drake hold his own against a high-priced, more seasoned attorney with his sharp mind and silver tongue. It reminded me of some of the choicer moments of The Rainmaker (either the book by John Grisham or the movie with Matt Damon, take your pick.)
I could say more but that would just spoil the fun of the read. And there’s a lot of fun to be had.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
A worthy successor to an already excellent series.
By Tom Williams
I'd read and enjoyed the three previous Zoo Crew books (and several others of Mr. Stevens' books), so I expected a good, taut, suspenseful, and ultimately satisfying read, and I was more than pleased. I'd have to re-read the first three to be sure, but I think I liked this one best. The new and old characters were interesting, the protagonists likable, and the plot and its surrounding story took enough turns keep me turning pages for hours that I "should" have spend otherwise. I do have to confess, that I was so wrapped up in the story that I took much longer than needed to realize the significance of the title, and that's really not like me.
I'm a native of Florida, and can barely consider living as far north as the mountains of western NC, but the Zoo Crew has me understanding the attraction of Montana - at least somewhat. I've vicariously become fond of a place I would NEVER live!
The Glue Guy is good enough to send me on another binge of his other books. I liked it so much, that after completing it through Kindle Unlimited, I bought it for my collection. Thanks much, Mr. Stevens!
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Anoter great Zoo Crew read.
By claudette valliere
Just another great Zoo Crew read. Spoiler alert.
This one starts with Dale Garvey. Dale and his girlfriend, Megan, are in a vehicle and have been for the last two hours watching a house. Its the middle of the night in winter in Montana and colder than cold. The truck isn't running to avoid detection. Both Dale and Megan are freezing.
The house is almost out of the city limits in the middle of nowhere. Garvey is on a mission. One that will further what he believes in. The house they are watching is a big part of the statement he's about to make.
Megan isn't sure. She's in league with Garvey but doesn't want anyone hurt. She's wondering if anyone is in the house they are watching. Garvey assures here no one is there. No lights, no movement. Empty house.
Wes Koenig is in his eighties and in a wheelchair he's in poor health and a man who's hated. He's a millionaire who's made his money by bilking unsuspecting people into buying what he's selling. He has no family and no friends. The two people he pays to take care of his seldom visited house aren't at the house.
Koenig hears voices and decides to stay where he is. He then smells smoke and decides he needs to move but he's to late. Far to late.
Detectives Paul Taggart and Clint Foye of the Butte Police Department are arriving at a house that's still burning. It looks like it will burn to the ground. The house belongs to Wes Koenig.
Taggart is the senior detective and really can't stand the young partner he's been saddled with. They are both wondering why they are at a house fire. Taggart calls dispatch and tells them to roll the fire Department.
The Zoo Crew is cross country skiing. Drake and Sage are enjoying themselves. Kade and Ajax? Not so much. Kade would rather be downhill skiing and views cross country skiing as to much work. Ajax, of course is complaining about the cold which he does from Halloween through May every year. Once back at their cars they head out for breakfast.
On arrival at the ski lodge dining room they ask when the ski lift will be fixed. The ski lift isn't working hence the cross country skiing. The restaurant which is only half full when normally its packed is an indication that the ski lift still isn't working.
Butte Arson Investigator Waylon Sharpe has just told Taggart that the fire was arson and an accelerant was used. It will be later when they find the body of Koenig in the house.
Taggart visits Tyce Riggins. Tyce played college ball a few years before Drake and Kade. He wasn't that good of a player but he was the kind of guy who solved problems, toned down disputes and basically was the glue guy who held the team together. He's one hell of a nice guy.
Taggart goes to his house after viewing the traffic footage and seeing Riggins truck on those tapes. Tyce advises them that he and Kara, his pregnant wife, were snow machining all day and stopped as his in laws for dinner. Kara wasn't feeling well so she stayed and he drove home hauling the snow mobile trailer. Riggins really didn't see anything at all on his drive home.
Sharp finds the body and Taggart now knows he's hunting an arsonist and a killer. On viewing those tapes again he spots gas cans in the back of the Riggins truck. He then arrests Riggins for arson and murder.
So begins another fine Zoo Crew read.
This one has Drake, a Drake who's done with school and will be taking State Boards to become a lawyer, a Drake who gets handed the Riggins case by his friend and fellow law student Wyatt Teague, a Teague who hands off the case and backs off big time, leaving Drake to tackle the case, Kade, Sage, Ajax, Detectives Taggart and Foye, Waylon Sharp, SA Poe, a case that's based on the gas cans in the back of Riggins truck, gas that was used for the snow machines, a very circumstantial and thin case, an SA Poe who decides to pursue this very thin case, Emily and old girlfriends of Drakes who wants him to come to DC with her, Garvey, Megan, the cause, murder, a Drake and Kade who follow the trail doing the Detectives job for them, LNG, Alaska, a Native American who clues them in on LNG and what it does, an oil well that belonging to Koenig out in the middle of nowhere, fracking and Drake Bell and Zoo Crew doing what they can to figure it all out, save the Glue Guy Riggins and solve the crime.