Spice Trader

Spice TraderSpice Trader by Henry Neilsen
Publisher: Self Published
Released: October 31, 2020
Pages: 166
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Peter, along with his friends Jemima and Patrick, are long time partygoers and recreational drug users. During one of their regular nights out, Patrick introduces the trio to "Spice", a new drug with some special properties. To their knowledge, it has no negative effects, isn't addictive, and can't be traced in the bloodstream. The trio wake up with nothing more than a hangover.

Several new laws are being proposed. Chief among them are rights of the police to harvest cell phone metadata, and the planned obscelescence of cash-based transactions. Can the three friends keep exploring this exciting new party drug? Or will the powers that be come down on them when their data starts unravelling their story?

Disclaimer: I got this book through Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair review, and I promise that my review is fair and honest one.

Spice Trader is a quick, entertaining, suspense-story about some friends who stumble into the drug trade almost by accident, and find themselves having to continue stumbling through an increasing amount of unexpected challenges.

It’s hard to write much about what actually happens in this book without giving anything away, but the reader follows Peter, who, along with his friends, enjoys drugs… perhaps a little more than he’d like. An event causes Peter to rethink his relationship to drugs, and he goes from being a user to being a producer. Unfortunately, along with money and a personal supply, Peter also conjures up some unwanted attention.

I’m a fan of short, snappy, suspense-novels, so my main gripe with Spice Trader is one that I rarely have: it could have been longer. A large chunk of the book is spent setting up for the main act. That’s not to say the setup was boring, because it wasn’t, but the setup was solid, and elaborate enough that this book could easily have held me captive for another hundred pages. The characters are filled in well in the ways that matter, and we get to know just enough about them to care – but little enough that a suspenseful veil of uncertainty hangs over what they might be thinking, what they might do next, and who they really are.

The way we get inside the head of the main character, Peter, is effective and well executed. His increasing confusion and desperation shines through, and the way he thinks, and acts, resonates well with the impression I got of his state of mind.

The Big Brother-esque tech-angle in this story fizzles out quicker than I wanted it to, and ends up feeling like a conceit (albeit an effective one) rather than a full-fledged element of the story. This doesn’t make the story worse, but I felt that ever-increasing government surveillance could have been spun into something rather exciting and interesting, especially in the context of low-key drug production and trading.

I really enjoyed Spice Trader. It is a quick read that will keep you entertained until it ends, even though it ended sooner than I’d like. If you want a quick escapist journey into the shady world of drugs, this book is well worth your time.

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