Muholland Books, Little Brown & Co, $26.00, 352 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-32762-6
The mean streets of Los Angeles are the setting for a new kind of novel that combines action with the troubles of the real world. It’s about people on the hustle, people who swindle others out of their money . . . they’re called grifters. Grifters have no conscience, no guilt, they’re only interested in parting the suckers from their money. Have you ever gotten a telephone call about a free vacation, an inheritance from an unknown relative, or a plea for help from an imaginary grandchild? If so you’ve been targeted for a scam.
The Smack, by Richard Lange is about a grifter named Rowan Petty. He’s a con man who’s flat broke, living in cheap hotels, wondering how he got there and looking for his next big score. Petty’s working as a telephone scammer in Las Vegas when an old acquaintance turns up with a rumor of a huge cash hoard in Los Angeles. And quick as a wink, Petty and his girlfriend head for the City of Angels. His target is two million bucks that have been squirreled out of Afghanistan by a tough US Army sergeant. He stole the money a few thousand at a time over a period of years from the US and Afghanistan governments, shipped it back to LA where he has it stashed in his old ‘hood’, and guarded by one of his gang-banger buddies. It’s a compelling, fast-paced noirish adventure with a bunch of gun battles and dead bodies in the rear view mirror. Petty is an anti-hero for the ages . . . tough, smart and utterly despicable. He’ll cheat an old woman out of her life savings, while at the same time he’ll fascinate any reader of crime fiction. This novel is edgy, smart and timely and the first in a series featuring an unlikely antihero. I couldn’t stop reading . . . it’s a rush!