With the Right Enemies by Rob Pierce

Rob Pierce’s latest novel, With the Right Enemies, is a worthy sequel to his 2015 book, Uncle Dust, both of which appear on All Due Respect Books. I say worthy because I enjoyed Uncle Dust immensely (review). Unlike most detective series where each book is its own encapsulated story with some lead characters moving through all of them, these two books are more serial in nature, actions in the first book reverberate throughout the second book. (Hint, you should read the Uncle Dust first. I promise you will not be disappointed.)

With the Right Enemies opens with an introduction to Vollmer, a fifteen-year-old criminal surviving on the streets. If you thought Dust or Rico from the first book were tough guys — and they were — Vollmer out does them in spades. The only fictional character who comes close to Vollmer’s savagery and callousness might be The Wire‘s Marlo Stanfield played so brilliantly by Jamie Hector.

Other men didn’t want the work Vollmer got, and Vollmer didn’t want the work other men got. Funny that Rico called it dangerous. Wasn’t dangerous for Vollmer. Dangerous for anyone who got in his way.

The only potential flaw that Vollmer had, other than being a sociopath, was his love for the prostitute and drug addict Yula.

Vollmer came up the ranks fast. In an industry of square-jawed men he was angular, athletic. He still saw Yula but she didn’t stay with him. Didn’t matter if he had money, she had to whore those streets and she had to shoot that junk. He worked different streets now, streets where there was more money, but none of the girls on those money streets looked as good as Yula. Or fucked as good.

He still wanted Yula, but she went the way he knew she’d go. She stopped being beautiful, got to where you could find the pretty features but they were beneath everything else. Junk. Fuck junk. Dealers weren’t the problem, they were guys with jobs and their bosses worked for Vollmer’s boss, it was all making money. It was people, fucking weak people. Vollmer left Yula behind and he knew this weird part of him loved her, loved what she was, knew that feeling should be in the past and knew it would never leave him.

With the Right Enemies tells the story of a group of criminals searching the streets of Berkely and Oakland for another criminal who has a death wish — he stole money from a mob boss and was now on the run.

The vast majority of With the Right Enemies takes place within a 24-hour period, a dangerously fast-paced whirlwind with plenty of threats and beatings and bullets flying. If a character isn’t scared shitless that means that character is frightening the hell out of another. With the Right Enemies is a brutal noir novel filled with violence and unforgiving thugs, just the way I like it.

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