Ronny Forbert is a rookie patrolmen on a small rural police force. On a cold winter night, he's parked in his ancient Crown Vic, running radar, when a vehicle comes down the road, speeding and with one headlight out. Ronny hits the lights and gives chase, only to have his heart sink when he recognizes the vehicle as it pulls to the side of the road.
The driver is Matt Laferiere. In the Jeep with Matt are three other members of his posse; all four are drunk and stoned. Ronny knows this crew all too well because he used to run with them. At one time, he and Matt were close to being best friends, but then Ronny saw the light and determined to make something of himself. He joined the police force and now is face-to-face with an ex-friend who has become his bitter enemy.
Ronny tries to play it by the book, but Laferiere is having none of it. He resists arrest; the two men struggle and a tragedy occurs. Ronny is briefly suspended from the force as a matter of form, but it seems clear that he did nothing wrong. But this is a small town, down on its heels, and there are people in town with their own agendas who attempt to exploit this situation for their own advantage. Ronny Forbert gets caught up in the middle of it all and before long, things have escalated in a way that no one wanted or could have foreseen.
This is a beautifully written, very atmospheric book. The setting is very well detailed and the characters are deftly drawn. The story has the ring of larger truths and the reader feels if he or she has been helicoptered into this community to watch this tragedy play out all around you. A great read.