As an amateur PI with a bent moral compass, Ash McKenna is good at finding peoplebut not at staying out of trouble. Between his own violent tendencies, the shadow cast by his father's death, and a self-destructive revenge quest, he made a mess of his life in NYC. Figuring it was time for a change of scenery Ash relocated to Portland, taking a job as a bouncer in a vegan strip club. And he hasn't had to hit anyone in six months.
So when one of the club's dancers asks Ash for help finding her daughter, he declines, content to keep the darkness in his past. But soon Ash is held at gunpoint by a man in a chicken mask, and told to keep away from the girls. Unfortunately Ash isn't good at following directions either.
As Ash navigates an unfamiliar city, he finds himself embroiled in a labyrinthine plot involving a ruthless drug cartel and a scandal that could reach one of the most powerful men in Portland. Ash is dead set on finding the missing girl, but realizes that in order to deliver her safely he may have to cross the one line he promised himself he never would.
Hart's appealing second Ash McKenna noir (after 2015's New Yorked) finds the former New York PI aground in Portland, Ore., where he passes quiet days as a bouncer at a vegan strip club (the food "is mostly hummus plates and black bean tacos"), working to quell daydreams of bagels and nightmares about the recent death of Chell, the woman he loved. When a dancer at the club asks for help finding her missing daughter, apparently snatched from day care by the girl's father, he weighs a twinge of sympathy against his vow to stay far from the violence of detective life and says no. But when a mysterious chicken-masked gunman warns Ash to stay away, he determines to find the girl. In the process, Ash tangles with drug cartels, political conspiracy, and the internal demons he hoped to escape in laid-back Portland. In attempting to balance the goofy fish-out-of-New-Yawk-water punch lines with Ash's inner darkness, Hart struggles at times for a coherent tone. Still, readers will enjoy his playful, jaded hero and twisty plot.