by Les Edgerton
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The Bitch. Three strikes and you're out. Ha-bitch-ual criminal. One more pop and I knew the judge would be peering down at me over his wireframes and saying, "Jacob Bishop, I hereby sentence you to life imprisonment. Have a nice day, loser."
And in one paragraph. Les Edgerson not only explains the title but sets the stage for his crime noir masterpiece about bad choices and even worse consequences.
The premise is a common enough one. ex-con Jacob Bishop. with two strikes against him, gets out of prison, falls in love and gets his life together. He and his pregnant wife are about ready to open their own business when his old cell mate shows up with a proposition involving a heist. It's bad enough that Jacob owes his friend for saving his life but other secrets are out too and blackmail is not out of the question.
From that point on, the dominoes fall and Jacob is in over his head...perhaps. Edgerton has not set up the most original plot, yet this book stands about the others in one major way. I dislike novels where the protagonists continue to make stupid illogical choices. Jacob's decisions may be stupid but they are not illogical. They fit well in the mindset of the characters and the situations they are presented. They fell real and logical based on the fact they are the makong the best decisions in the best, if corrupted and unhealthy, way they know how. This is something I know a little about, having worked with parolees and probationers. As wild as the action gets, I felt it could happen. Perhaps a few too many people coincidentally end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also his girl friend maybe falls in line a little too easy. Yet these are minor annoyances considering how riveting the novel is and how well the action and consequences flow.
Edgerton has a gritty style and excels in the street wise, prison accented dialog that permeates this tale. This is one of those story that never let up. I think I put th book down once to answer the phone but that was it. It has an almost perfect ending. Some may think it is a little too open and sudden but I thought it was just right. With one novel, Edgerton has entered my short list of favorite suspense thriller writers, including Charlie Huston and Joe R. Lansdale and he is giving hard-nosed icons like Mickey Spillane a run for the money.
A word or two about the publisher. This was the second book I've read from New Pulp Press. The other one was Last of the Smoking Bartenders by C. J. Howell. New Pulp Press seems to specialize in thrillers and suspense with a literary bent. Emphasis on the word "literary". From the two books I've read, I can say it is an exceptional small publishing company and it would be worthwhile to keep a eye on them...not to mention checking out their past inventory.
Method acquired: Netgalley