Sunday, March 14, 2004

Tough Luck - by Jason StarrI just finished Jason Starr's Tough Luck and submitted this Amazon review.

A worthy successor to the Jim Thompson

The greats of noir fiction had a way of putting you inside the heads of the disenfranchised, the losers, even stone-cold, psychopathic killers. And the most skillful among them -- say, a Jim Thompson -- had the reader gradually empathasizing with these outcasts. Jason Starr can stand toe to toe with any of these authors. His _Tough Luck_ is an expertly written story.

Mickey Prada is a poor kid trying to make good. Working in a fish market while saving for college, he also takes care of his Alzheimer's-ridden Dad. Things are going pretty well for Mickey until a slick-looking mobster walks into the fish shop. Angelo Santoro starts talking football and betting with Mickey. Before long, Mickey's placing 'good faith' bets for Angelo. And Angelo keeps losing. Now Mickey's in the hole to his bookie and Angelo won't make good on his debt.

In order to get out of hock, his lifelong friend Chris proposes a burglary of a fancy home. It'll be easy money, what with the homeowners on vacation. And Mickey will surely be able to pay off the bookie and maybe pick up some nice trinkets for his new girlfriend. It all sounds so simple. But nothing goes quite as you might expect -- and none of the well-drawn characters will ever be the same after _this_ caper.

Starr writes with exquisite attention to detail. The jargon of the early eighties... the fashion... the culture... all are snapshots wrapped around the realistic foibles of each character. I'll definitely be picking up the rest of Starr's books. It's easily some of the best noir fiction going.

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