Brad Gilbertson has written an entertaining and fast-paced, suspenseful thriller that is filled with nonstop action and capped off with an unexpected plot twist at the end. The story captures the reader’s interest and attention from the opening pages and keeps the reader engaged until the final page. Gilbertson does a good job of drawing readers into what the characters are feeling emotionally, which helps readers experience firsthand the situations in which the characters are involved and identify with the rationale behind their decisions. The story is set in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the fictional town of Monte Vista, with vivid descriptions of the area.
In Lethal Harvest, Larry Riegert and his vicious brother, Chuck, escape the clutches of a drug cartel in Baja, California. They move to Monte Vista, California, to make a business deal with their uncle, Athan Fortino. When Athan suffers a stroke that leaves him in a coma, the brothers take advantage of their uncle’s health woes to embezzle money from Fortino Vineyards. They use the money to buy a unique cocaine production operation and set it up in an abandoned, underground winery on their uncle’s property. To conceal the operations of the cocaine factory, Larry takes control of Athan’s affairs, including the construction of a new winery. As the cocaine operation becomes successful, it attracts the interest of people who are even more ruthless than Chuck.
Jason Beck is an architect who is engaged by Athan and his alluring and invaluable business partner, Raquel Soltero, to design the new winery and oversee its construction. His life is fraught with difficulties; his wife is having a mysterious problem he does not understand, and his former employer has turned out to be an unscrupulous competitor who is blackballing Jason throughout the region. Jason needs the winery project to succeed if he is to save his fledgling architectural firm and his career, and he is desperate to save both to keep his marriage from collapsing. When Larry Riegert takes over the winery project and it starts to go downhill, Jason becomes obsessed with finding out why.
After Jason’s family leaves for a vacation in Mexico, Jason and Raquel get too close to the truth, and the Riegert brothers try and scare them away. However, their attempt just makes Jason and Raquel even more curious, and the pair eventually ascertains that the brothers are trafficking illegal drugs. Larry learns of their discovery through underhanded means, and bullets start flying. Jason and Raquel run for their lives, but the Riegerts catch up with them.
Thirty miles away, in Oakland, two narcotics cops investigating a crime scene discover a massacre and accompanying clues that point to Fortino Winery. They visit Monte Vista and stake out the winery property, where they stumble upon enough evidence to organize a joint agency assault team to raid the winery.
In the climax scene, all of the players who survive the raid come together in one terrifying confrontation, and lives are changed forever.
The violence in Lethal Harvest is in context and is realistic, but not graphic. There is a single explicit sex scene, which reveals how the characters involved deal with the horrendous circumstances and emotional upheavals to which they are being subjected. Profanity is kept to a minimum; it fits the characters and plights in which they find themselves.