I've been following Mr. Harwood's career for a long time. He's very big in the podcast world and has made this novel (and others) available as an audio download.
The coolest thing about a podcast novel is that it is a complete throw back to the early days of radio. Harwood himself reads one chapter at a time and it builds into a serialized story. When the novel was first podcasted I'd have to wait a week between chapters. Now you can listen to the whole thing as quickly as you like.
The reason he put it out on the Internet, free for anybody to listen to, was to generate interest and to build a fan base. By having hard numbers (the amount of times the book was downloaded) he could show a publisher that he had a number of fans who would also turn into buyers of his book.
It worked and Jack Wakes Up was published by Three Rivers Press, in 2008, as a paperback original.
I always knew I wanted to read the book more than I wanted to listen to it. So I only listened to the first third and waited for the book to be published. Then I bought it as soon as it was available - then it sat on my shelf for nearly three years - and now I've read it!
It was a very polished and quickly paced first effort. This guy has got some chops. Harwood can certainly take you into the darkest, seediest, and scariest corners of San Francisco. This is my kind of stuff.
The story is about a drug buy. A big drug buy. So you know there are going to be some scary characters all over the place.
Did I like the book? Oh, yea, baby!
I only had one bit of trouble with the book.
Palms is an ex-action hero movie star, a one hit wonder. His career is all but over when a friend calls him up to help smooth over the drug transaction. Circumstances change early in the book and Palms has to complete the task on his own. Jack's a smart guy but what I had trouble understanding was how he had the experience to pull off a buy that was going so dangerously wrong. Maybe I missed something early on in the book (and that's very likely) but any rational person would have walked away. Although he was in financial difficulty I never felt like that was the only motivation for Jack.
With that bit of negative news assided I can tell you that Harwood had my heart racing a few times through the book. Visit this guy at his website, download one of his free audio novels and give it a try. If you like crime fiction, suspense and action you can't go wrong with this first effort.