Green Mill Press
Neutral, No Brakes
A new novel by Portland author
Patrick Howard

“Attractive oddballs confront their private struggles to take on urban corruption and decay...”
Neutral, No Brakes, Patrick Howard's new novel, is the story of Morley, an embattled town riddled with political corruption, exploitation, neglect, unapologetic greed, and unbridled criminality. Like the town itself, the people of Morley have lost their way. With ingenuity and heroic persistence, they doggedly fight their way out of desolation to reach higher ground.
Neutral, No Brakes

Kirkus Review (excerpt):
An expansive, moving tale that illuminates the dangers of gentrification and the complexities of the human experience...
Howardís debut novel, based on true events, reveals memorable characters and pressing social issues in a small town...
The novelís most moving plotline revolves around recent ex-convict Nic Troxell, who finds himself in a co-dependent, abusive relationship with a man he met through a prison pen pal program. Nicís feelings remain precariously balanced between self-preservation, explosive anger, and compassion. As Howard details his cast of characters with patience, sincerity, and precision, he reveals tender moments of human connection. Whether dealing with large social issues or innermost truths, Howard keeps the various players questioning their allegiances and struggling to make the right choices. (see full review)
Neutral, No Brakes

Patrick Howard
Patrick Howard writes about contemporary issues through the lens of ordinary folks finding their way. His observations are clear and sometimes biting, but with a decided bent toward humor, optimism, and redemption. Growing up in Hollywood, California, Patrick was a child actor, graduated from UCLA, taught college physiology, and went on to attend medical school. As a physician, heís cared for countless emergency department patients and mentored dozens of young learners toward academic success. He lives and works in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Carrie.

Listen to the Kirkus Review on YouTube.
Kirkus Review
Neutral, No Brakes is available at:
 Amazon,  Kindle,  Audible,  B&,  Powell's Books,
 Politics and Prose Books,  Annie Bloomís Books,  Strand Books NYC,  Walmart,
 and at Books.
Selected Reader Reviews of
Neutral, No Brakes
by Patrick Howard

Make it a movie!
This insightful novel captures a contemporary slice of American life with empathy, accuracy and optimism. Well-written, straight-up engaging literature, built around a compelling cast of characters. It deserves a wide audience. I was struck by the authenticity of each character; I couldnít get enough of them. My favorite is Nic, the newbie in Morley and a recent parolee. I wondered how in the world this author managed to get me to care so much about an initially unlikeable person. And what an ending! I never saw it coming. During a stint of homelessness, Nic lives with and learns from unhoused people and figures out how to survive thanks to a combination of smarts, ruthlessness, and the offerings of services trying in vain to help the homeless. It is written without judgement, but with excruciating, painful clarity, leavened with a hint of optimism ‒ attributes that Howard brings to the entire book. I can easily see this as a film or streaming series. (Visually and narratively, I am reminded of "Tales of the City," the Emmy-winning adaptation of Armistead Maupinís novelized series that chronicles the zeitgeist of 1970s San Francisco. The run-down strip mall in Morley would serve as Anna Madrigal's house, and this series could similarly capture the current pivotal cultural and economic moment, one likely to be historically transformative.) In his debut novel, Howard demonstrates powerful talent, with prose that hits that sweet spot of keeping the plot chugging along as it's nestled inside succinct but colorful descriptions combined with cultural and psychological insights. The writing succeeds in balancing the morality of the story with the story itself ‒ no easy feat but one that is the defining feature of quality literature. Highly recommended!
Read it and then read it again!
A rare gem fueled by a combination of lyrical text and fascinating quirky characters. Written with a deep understanding of humanity, the consequences of decisions on self and others, and of personal and community strength. A novel full of heart, humor, and page-turning suspense. Hoping for a sequel. Giving it as gifts. A MUST-READ!!!!
A wild romp!
Neutral, No Brakes has it all ‒ from sex, violence and political corruption to a grassroots exploration of societal ethos, clandestine love and urban blight, all laced with an undercurrent of hope for the future. These beautifully constructed chapters weave a panoply of diverse, lovable characters, all searching for meaning and purpose in their lives. The players are unforgettable, their insights starkly poignant, the humor palpable and the writing witty, sophisticated and well-paced. I loved it! Would love to see a sequel!
Welcome to the quirky characters of Morley!
Visit the transitional California town of Morley and you will be introduced to an array of intriguing inhabitants who will stay with you long after you finish the last page. Howard paints his characters with vivid colors and subtle pastels. His prose is intoxicating. The story reflects underlying issues we face currently in our world ‒ political corruption, homelessness, crime, betrayal ‒ and yet the book is filled with love, redemption and hope.
It's all downhill from here
What an uplifting read—crime, government corruption, backstabbing friends, and small-town gossip. Who could ask for more? The path to redemption is never straightforward but is a path worthy of pursuing. Visit Morley, you will want to come back again and again.
Problems do have solutions...
I really like this book. It is relevant to conditions we are all too familiar with today—small-town corruption, urban decay, get-rich-quick gentrification and redevelopment schemes, and the failure to effectively deal with the problems of the unhoused population. The lives and relationships of the novel's characters are affected by these issues. They are ultimately able to transform their circumstances for the better, positively influencing local conditions as well as their own lives.

Neutral, No Brakes by Patrick Howard
ISBN 979-8-9862181-1-3
Paperback $17.95
September 2022
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