A solid jolt of adrenaline in: BROWN SUGAR IN MINNESOTA

by Joe Field

Verdict: BROWN SUGAR IN MINNESOTA is a mystery that offers a quick and easy high.

IR Rating



IR Rating

A young reporter tracks drug dealers selling a super-potent form of heroin.

Cooper Smith has a good job working as a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio, and is about to marry the woman of his dreams, Tae Kwon Do champion and Democratic political operative Soojin Kim. But his job might be in jeopardy if he doesn’t find a big story soon, so when he gets a lead about a brand-new, super-potent form of heroin being imported from Mexico and sold on Native reservations nearby, he eagerly follows it up. These are not, however, your average drug dealers, and they quickly target Cooper as a threat to their operations – while the DEA wants to keep him, and his story, under control until they’ve made their arrests. Can Cooper manage to keep himself safe while still getting his story out, and keeping his job?

BROWN SUGAR IN MINNESOTA is a lively but short thriller, giving a first-person protagonist’s view of a drug chase and bust. The protagonist is a likable everyman with ambition and heart, who actually behaves realistically in life-threatening decisions – i.e. running away, and seeking help from those with more strength and firepower than he has, rather than letting his ego take over. The story moves quickly, with action and energy, from beginning to end. However, it does miss substantial opportunities for emotional complexity, character and plot development, and suspense. There are a number of conflicts, characters, and storylines that can have been explored but aren’t, such as conflicts between Native law and US law, or a more suspenseful and direct confrontation between Cooper and the lead drug dealer, Smokey. Surprisingly, Soojin, who is an interesting character in her own right and a trained fighter as well, gets little action in the book and would benefit from further character development.

BROWN SUGAR IN MINNESOTA is a mystery that offers a quick and easy high.


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