Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Let It Ride cover - first draft

This is the first pass at a cover for my next book, Let It Ride (Swap in Canada).

I like it. The main thing we're talking about is the image of the guy. It's an ensemble story and there are some strong women in the book, too. Plus, I just like the idea of a woman on the cover.

Here's the opening of the book:

Chapter One

Coming off the Ambassador Bridge into Canada,
Vernard pulled up to the customs booth, the sign saying it
was the longest international suspension bridge in the
world. The tunnel would’ve been faster, but there was no
way he was going underground, underwater, gave him the
willies, worse than all those caves in Afghanistan.

The Canadian customs guy looked at him and Vernard
nodded, serious, seeing the guy’s Glock, thinking, shit,
these guys just started carrying guns a couple months ago,
probably couldn’t get it out of his holster. Fucking Canada.

The guy asked him all the questions, how long he was
staying, was he an American citizen, carrying any firearms?
Vernard showed him his driver’s licence and his
Armed Forces id, blue for retired—honourable discharge,
Sergeant Vernard McGetty. Said, “Not any more.”

“What’s the purpose of your trip?”

Vernard said it was a vacation. “I’m going to the film festival.”

The guy said, oh yeah, and it’s not business?

Vernard said, yeah, “I’m Jamie Foxx.”

The guy actually laughed and said have a nice trip,
waving him through, twenty-eight-year-old black guy from
Detroit driving a brand-new Mercedes ml370 suv, leather
interior and twelve-speaker surround on his way to
Toronto to meet with some bikers, sell them a truckload of
Uncle Sam’s guns and set up a pipeline for their coke and
weed back to Detroit, stepping up to the big leagues.

Fucking Canada.

Looking back he saw the U.S. customs guys just
waving people through, too; cars and vans and campers
and trucks. Fucking trucks, must be thousands a day,
going back and forth, couldn’t check them all. Couldn’t
check two per cent of them.

Shit, Vernard was thinking, turning up his system loud,
Little Walter finding his Key to the Highway, it’s easier to
cross this border into another country than it is to cross
Mack Ave into Grosse Pointe.

Through Windsor it was all Taco Bells and KFC and
Burger King, didn’t seem like another country at all
except for the place selling Cuban coffee, Vernard thinking,
right, that’s not the only thing from Cuba in there.

Outside of Windsor this part of Canada was flat and
bleak, farms, gas stations, fast-food places, and lots of
traffic. Vernard was surprised there could be this much
open space so close to Detroit, a foreign goddamn country,
and you’d never know it was there.

Four-hour drive, Detroit to Toronto, six lanes of steady
traffic going in both directions.

An hour in Vernard pulled into a gas station. Filled up
and parked in the back behind the Wendy’s with all the
trucks, shit, looked like hundreds of them all lined up. He
went inside and saw the guy he wanted sitting there eating
a cheeseburger and drinking a shake.

“You keep this up, you might get fat.”

The guy, three hundred pounds at least, his whole face
smiled, shaking his big bald black head, standing up and
saying, “Fucking Get, man, they let you in this motherfucking
country?” They hugged, backslapping, and sat
down across from each other in the little plastic seats.

“Saw your cousin on the news, man.”

The big guy, once Corporal Duane Thomkins, now just
Tommy K, looked off into the distance. “She so fine, all the
reporters want to talk to her, all dressed up in her fatigues.”
Vernard, sliding easy now back to being just Get, said,
“They knew what she was sending home, man, blow they
muthafucking minds.”

“You know it.” Tommy laughed out loud. Then he
said, “Eat up, man, next stop is all Mickey Dees.”

“I’ll wait till I get there.”

They walked out back to the truck lot behind the
restaurant, stopping to look at Get’s new car, Tommy
saying, “Motherfucking German-ass piece of shit, man.
Drive American.”

“What do you drive?”

“Fucking Peterbilt, man, 370, air ride, mp3, dvd, got a
satellite map, goddamn double bed. Look at these sorry-ass
motherfuckers; Volvos, Swedish fucking bullshit, Hino,
what the fuck kind of rice paddy piece of shit is Hino?”

Get said, “You’re loyal, Tommy, patriotic. That’s cool.”

They got to Tommy’s red Peterbilt hooked to a fiftythree-
foot trailer and he opened the door, saying,

“Fucking right I’m patriotic, man. Where’d we be without
Uncle Sam?” Climbed into the sleeper and came out with
a dark green duffle bag.

Get didn’t even look in the bag, he just hucked it over
his shoulder feeling the weight, nodding, yeah. “We’d be
some sorry-ass niggers.”

Tommy said, “No hassle at the border?”

“Guy was happy to see me,” Get said. “But you never
know, next time they could tear my car apart.”

“Shine that fucking Maglite up your ass.”

Get said, oh man, don’t even joke.

Tommy smiled again, that full of life-is-good enthusiasm,
and said, “Don’t sweat it, a million trucks a day, they
can’t look at every one. You got somebody crosses here
every week,” and winked. Then he said, “There’s only one

“Yeah?” Anybody else Get would have given a hard
time, matter of respect, but not Tommy. Get was the boss,
but Tommy would never really be an employee. “Guess I
just have to shoot the motherfuckers one at a time.”

Tommy said, yeah, make every shot count.

Get said, “You going to Toronto?”

“The Big Smoke?”


Tommy laughed. “Assholes call it that, looking for a
name, be cool, play with the big boys.”

Get hefted the bag, said, they playing with the big boys

“They don’t even know it. Naw, man, I’m going to
Montreal. Some fine French chicks there. And the food,
shit, food alone’s worth the drive. You should come.”

“Maybe next time.”

“You say that, man, but you all business, never take a
break. You still that skinny-ass nigger on the bike.”

“Yeah, but the Army made a man out of me.”

Tommy laughed and gave him a hug, saying, “You
fucking funny, you know it. Shit. Your mama be proud.”

“Thanks man.”

“Don’t have to thank me,” Tommy said. “You paying

Get said, yeah, but you’re worth it.

Tommy got into his rig and started it up, saying,

“Every penny.” He blew the air horn on his way out, and

Get walked back to his car, his German-ass suv.

Three hours to Toronto, see what it’s like, this Big
Smoke, wants to play with the big boys. Meet with these
bikers think they’re running the show, sell them this
weaponry, see if they really can deliver the meth and X
and coke and the tons of weed they say they can.

Get felt good, ready to really step up, make some
changes in the Motor City, make his mama proud.


J. Kingston Pierce said...

That book jacket is definitely an eye-catcher, John, even though there has been an overabundance of split covers produced during the last couple of years.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Great cover. You should see the opening sequence of HUNG (HBO) where they show the streets of Detroit in all its glory. Yikes!

Peter Rozovsky said...

Yep, some cool highways!
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

michel said...

Why do American cover designers think the bad guys all wear shades and smoke? When I see crooks on the news, they're all wearing business suits.

Looks great anyway. And it reads really fine. These are going to be classics in time. Call me jealous.

John McFetridge said...

Well, the guy on the cover does look like the guys in the book. My characters aren't really from the front page, more like page 6 and by then there aren't so many business suits. You know, smaller-time criminals and all.

Still, there are a lot of characters in the book, so I think in the next version of this cover there may be a woman on there as well.

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