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Marilyn StasioStroby is back on this marginal social turf in The Heartbreak Lounge, writing with such fierce originality that he rejuvenates corny genre conventions. His first chapter, in which a violent thug named Johnny Harrow makes his way home to Asbury Park after doing a seven-year hitch in a Florida prison, is a chilling reversal of the cliched scene in which a naive ex-con is plucked off the highway by a predatory babe in a Buick convertible. Johnny has one thing on his twisted mind -- to kidnap the child that his former girlfriend, a strip dancer at the Heartbreak Lounge, gave up for adoption when he went to prison -- and while his amoral cruelty makes him something of an animal, he's an electrifying character and presents a genuine challenge for Harry Rane, a former state trooper turned security guard, who plays the credibly flawed hero in Stroby's twilight world of hopeless losers.
— The New York Times