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Skunk Train

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  14 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Starting in the Humboldt wilds and ending on the Skid Row of Los Angeles, Skunk Train follows two teenagers, Kyle and Lizzie, who stumble upon stolen drug money and set off to find Kyles father, a Hollywood director hes never met, with drug dealers, dirty cops, and the Mexican mob on their heels.

Kyle Gill, fifteen, lives with his older cousin, Deke, in the backwater
Kindle Edition, 238 pages
Published December 2nd 2019 by Down & Out Books
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Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Clifford's "Skunk Train" is a page-turning adventure traversing the length of a California from the redwood forests of Humboldt County to the run--down skid row of downtown Los Angeles. Yes, it's another twist on the theme of a young innocent (sorta) on the run with a bag of cash and all kinds of bad guys on his heels. But, the writing is so crisp that the theme feels fresh and new. Humboldt's economy has been not-so-secretly dependent on the pot trade for many years and things in that world (at ...more
Mike Hughes
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
another great adventure from Joe. Loved it!! easily becoming one of the best in the genre!
John McKenna
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Skunk Train Inn is a sleazy, side-of-the-road motel up in northern Californias sparsely populated Humboldt County. Thats where the giant redwood trees grow, and its the epicenter of the states illicit pot-growing operations. Kyle Gill, whos only a few days shy of his sixteenth birthday, lives in a run-down trailer with his older cousin Deke, up in the backwoods town of Dormundt . . . stuck so far in the redwoods that sunlight needs a roadmap to find its way in there. Kyles in high school, ...more
Rory Costello
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's a Pink Panther cartoon in which the Panther, a caveman, a small dinosaur, and a large dinosaur fight over a bone that keeps changing hands. It's a fast-moving chase that's often very funny, and so is Skunk Train. I found the more frequent humor welcome. That's a feature that's typically present in Joe Clifford's work -- especially his memoir, Junkie Love -- but it's more subdued in his grim and wintry Jay Porter series.

Also, the violence in Skunk Train is by no means cartoonish. Yet the
Kim Cabrera
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Skunk Train, written by Joe Clifford, is a sort of coming-of-age tale set against a backdrop of Californias grittier side. The hero of the story is 15-year-old Kyle Gill, who lives in the hills of Humboldt with his cousin, Deke. Deke and a friend, Jimmy, have come into possession of a hundred pounds of marijuana. In their attempt to sell it, they run afoul of some dirty cops, a biker gang, the Mexican cartel, and assorted others. Kyle and his new friend, Lizzie, end up on the run with a backpack ...more
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Joe Clifford writes with a ton of grit, pace, and style. Skunk Train adds a good dose of heart and soul to the mix. Told primarily from the perspective of fifteen-year-old Kyle Gill, Clifford delivers a bildungsroman of sorts that manages to keep the reader's heart pounding while at the same time tugging at its strings. Clifford handles Kyle (and Kyle's seventeen-year-old love interest, Lizzie Decker) with a deft touch, managing to capture the protagonists' raw teenage emotions without in any ...more
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is a wild romp through the CA in pre-legalization times. These teens race from San Francisco to Skid Row being chased by dirty cops, dealers, and the Mexican mob. Its a face-paced roller coaster ride. Recommended read. ...more
Meri Blankenship
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Skunk Train
Joe Clifford
is a flashback wild ride through the CA coast from San Francisco to Hollywood before legalization. These teens are being chased by dirty cops, dealers, and the Mexican mob. Its a high-octane fast-paced storyline. Recommended read.
Joanne Chase
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed Skunk Train. Its fast paced, with both a touch of noir and a touch of humor, although the characters do find themselves in dire straits at times. ...more
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A plot with more twists than a country road and with a love story to warm a readers heart; these teens may be more Thelma and Louise than Romeo and Juliet. They have challenges.Definitely a 5 star ⭐ read! ...more
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Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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Joe Clifford is acquisitions editor for Gutter Books and producer of Lip Service West, a gritty, real, raw reading series in Oakland, CA. Joe is the author of several books, including Junkie Love, Lamentation, and December Boys, as well as editor of Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Stories Based on the Songs of Bruce Springsteen. Joes writing can be found at


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