Cover Image: Skunk Train

Skunk Train

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Member Reviews

Kyle Gill who is fifteen lives with his cousin Deke in Northern California town of Dormundt. Kyle hasn't had a easy life and has been skipping school. He discovers one afternoon that Deke and his business partner Jimmy have one hundred pounds of marijuana which they took from the dealer's house. Deke and Jimmy know people will come looking for the marijuana and set a plan in motion to sell it at the  Skunk Train Inn but unknown to them the people who they are selling it to are dirty cops. A gun fight happens at the motel and Deke is killed and Jimmy escapes. Kyle escapes in Jimmy's truck with the money from the deal. 

Kyle decides to try and find his dad who is meant to be a hollywood star. Kyle ends up in San Francisco where he meets Lizzie Decker who comes from a wealthy family. Lizzie is fed up of her life and discovers her dad has been arrested for embezzlement. 

Kyle and Lizzie join forces but are soon chased by Jimmy, dirty cops, the mexican cartel and the detectives trying to solve the case at the Skunk Motel Inn. 

This was a entertaining read. 

It is actioned packed the right way through. Each character in the book has their own motived for chasing Kyle and Lizzie. The characters switch between good, bad and some a bit of both. 

There is a realistic side to the book as the author does address various issues we see in are everyday life e.g homelessness, Kyle situtation with his parents. 

Overall a enjoyable book filled with action, morally grey characters and a good old chase. 

I received a ARC from Netgalley and Down & Out Books for an objection review.
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Wow! Wow! Wow!

If you're looking for a heart-pounding, edge of your seat, joyride, then look no further!

I was hooked from the first paragraph! Met Kyle, he's 15 years old, living in a podunk town in California with his cousin, Deke, who sells marijuana. Kyle's mom died when he was 5 and his father abandoned him and lives in Hollywood, as a movie director. There's a drug deal that goes very wrong and sends this story skidding sideways, in all the right ways. Kyle ends up on a journey to find his father. He meets lots of interesting characters along the way....the Mexican cartel, that wants their stolen product back, crooked cops that want their money back, some street kids, pedophiles, and a beautiful girl that wants to help him out.

This is so well written and draws you right in to the story and doesn't let go when you're done reading!

Joe Clifford, I'm coming for your other books!

A special thank you to NetGalley, Down & Out Books, and Joe Clifford for providing me with a copy.
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I got this book because I live in the town where the Skunk Train resides. I thought my town might be featured but no. This book is centered in a Humboldt town and the Skunk Train is refers to is a run down motel where violence by corrupt cops takes place. Oh well, the culture it talks about is very familiar to me.

  Humboldt and Mendocino (my county) are famous for their marijuana cultivation. It's not such a promising industry now that is legal but it is still done. There are plenty of people living "off the grid" in remote sections of the area and growing the "crop". Kyle is a young high school student whose custodial uncle stumbles onto a big stash of marijuana at a murdered grower's house.  Trying to unload the product is quite a problem.

  There are lots of stereotypes in the book including motorcycle gangs and members of the Mexican Cartel. They are stereotypes because they are often true and I have seen enough of them to last a lifetime. Some of the situations are very real and some are far fetched. I think this may be a more male oriented book or maybe for someone who is not as familiar to the culture. 

  Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book.
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Everything you'd expect from a book titled Skunk Train and so much more. Gritty, edgy, the characters are well developed and you don't realize your slip into the criminal underworld with Kyle until it's too late.
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Really nicely written coming of age story about 15 year-old Kyle (almost 16) who, after some unfortunate incidents, comes in possession of a bag full of (drug)money and ends up taking an eventful roadtrip to LA in search of his father, a famous producer in Hollywood. Along the way he is chased by criminals, dirty cops and Mexican gangmembers, but also finds a girl to fall in love with. 
This was a fast-paced story where the characters and side characters aren't necessarily good or bad. There were a lot of gray areas where people you thought were assholes surprisingly did help out and people you thought were the good guys didn't conmpletely have good intentions. I flew through this book as it was a very enjoyable read and more than enough plot twists to keep it interesting.

*** An ARC was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review ***
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*** ARC provided by Netgalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ***
This is my first Joe Clifford read.  He created interesting characters in a story with a fluid flow. Kyle is an angsty and somewhat angry (or average teenager) who has grown up in a rural area with a cousin, Deke, who is a small time marijuana dealer/tattooist.  Deke makes a wrong turn and this tailspins his and Kyle’s lives into a fast paced, crime filled, bad cop-good cop, Mexican cartel, first love, first experience, coming of age story.  There’s action packed in every chapter of this book and it’s awesome; there’s never a dull moment.   I would definitely read more of Clifford’s stories and highly recommend this one.
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Skunk Train, written by Joe Clifford, is a sort of coming-of-age tale set against a backdrop of California’s grittier side. The hero of the story is 15-year-old Kyle Gill, who lives in the hills of Humboldt with his cousin, Deke. Deke and a friend, Jimmy, have come into possession of a hundred pounds of marijuana. In their attempt to sell it, they run afoul of some dirty cops, a biker gang, the Mexican cartel, and assorted others. Kyle and his new friend, Lizzie, end up on the run with a backpack full of cash.

The Humboldt hill country, where the story begins, is described fairly well. The communities mentioned by name are fictional, but there really is a Skunk Train, although it is not a motel, it’s an actual tourist train. As a resident of Humboldt, this reviewer found the descriptions of the rural life here relatively accurate. Kyle seemed a bit naive for his age, but it is partly due to his isolation in the hills with his cousin, who is a marijuana farmer. The communities described in the book seem to be based on mashups of many local communities, rather than just one town. The name of Kyle’s town, Dormundt, is an interesting play on words. Sounds like Dormant, which could be an interesting reference by the author to some of the ways of life here in Humboldt. The other fictional towns are Richter and Cutting. 

Deke and Jimmy are the ones who set the events in motion when they help themselves to the stolen marijuana. Then, they attempt to sell it to some dirty cops, but that is interrupted by the biker gang. In the process, Deke is killed. Kyle ends up running off with Jimmy’s truck, which, unknown to Kyle, has a bag of money in the back. Kyle ends up in San Francisco, where he tries to locate his uncle. He loses the truck and the money and finds a girl named Lizzie, who eventually decides to help him. Kyle wants to find his father, who he believes is a movie director in Hollywood. 

The story was believable and the characters were built up well over the course of the novel. Kyle does a lot of growing up in that time span. Lizzie has her own reasons for helping him. The situations Kyle runs into are unfortunately too common for runaway juveniles. The harsh reality of his situation seemed very realistic. 

I liked that the novel didn’t try to make things seem too perfect. The reader sees the reality of life on the street and of the hidden side of our cities. The events seemed realistic for a kid from out of town with no money who knows no one in the area. What would he do to survive? How would he go about finding his father with the very slim amount of evidence he had to work with? 

The plot moved along well and the reader will be eager to see what happens next. This was a pretty good page-turner and really drew me into the story. Characters are believable and the locations are well-described. Overall, I thought the author did a great job bringing this story to life. There is a sense of reality to it that is lacking in some fiction. 

I give it five stars. A very enjoyable read. Recommended.
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Clifford's "Skunk Train" is a page-turning adventure traversing the length of a California from the redwood forests of Humboldt County to the run--down skid row of downtown Los Angeles.  Yes, it's another twist on the theme of a young innocent (sorta) on the run with a bag of cash and all kinds of bad guys on his heels.  But, the writing is so crisp that the theme feels fresh and new.  Humboldt's economy has been not-so-secretly dependent on the pot trade for many years and things in that world (at least before legalization) often end up upside down.  Here, fifteen-year-old Kyle gets caught up in his cousin's sour deal and on the run with the goods.  It's a great mash-up of innocence and criminality, of naïveté and experience.  Most of all, it's a damn fun read and we all need some fun these days.
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