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Welcome to California. Weed is legal. Grow it. Sell it. Smoke it. Eat it. But the money you make off it—there’s the rub. Bank it, and the Feds will ask questions. Keep it around, and you’ll get robbed. LaDon and Jessie—two hustlers who make selling primo weed a regular gig—hire a private security detail to move and hold their money. Ex-soldiers Glanson and Echo target the cash—they start a ripoff business.

It’s the wild, wild West. Except this time, everybody’s high.

With their guns and guts, Glanson and Echo don’t expect much trouble from a mean son-of-a-gun like LaDon Charles. But that’s exactly what they get. In this industry, no matter how much money there is for the taking—and no matter who gets it—there’s always somebody counting backwards…to zero.

Acclaimed pulp writer Matt Phillips spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing COUNTDOWN, his head-spinning take on Southern California’s lucrative and not-quite-regulated marijuana industry.

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?

To me, this book is a contemporary take on a modern crime enterprise. Recreational cannabis sales—whether permitted or not by municipalities—is a new addition to our society. My book deals with how this new freedom might (or might not) result in crime. So I hope the book builds on the genre by including new kinds of crime and justice.

Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?

I started doing research about the money in and behind the cannabis industry. I learned there is a lot of cold hard cash out there. I’m talking real cash—like, not in a bank. I spoke informally with a couple law enforcement officers about this as well (and some not so law enforcement-type people). And, yeah, everybody agrees…there’s a lot of cash out there.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I want readers to burn through this book like it’s a drug—I just want people to have a helluva good time.


Matt Phillips lives in San Diego. His books include Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, The Bad Kind of Lucky, and Know Me from Smoke. He has published crime stories across the web at Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Out of the Gutter’s Flash Fiction Offensive, Pulp Metal Magazine, Tough Crime, Manslaughter Review, and elsewhere.

To learn more about Matt and his work, please visit his website.