The Heartbreak Lounge

( 2 )

Overview

"Ex-state trooper Harry Rane is at loose ends. Doing some investigative work for a friend's firm just to keep himself busy, Harry meets Nikki Ellis, a woman desperate for help. Her ex, Johnny Harrow, was just released from prison after a seven-year stretch for attempted murder. Nikki hasn't spoken to him since he went down, but she knows what he's capable of, and that he'll be looking for her - and for the baby she put up for adoption after Johnny went away. She knows it's up to her to protect the child once again. And she's afraid." "As Harry
... See more details below
Paperback (First Edition)
$18.01
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$19.99 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $1.99   
  • New (6) from $12.85   
  • Used (5) from $1.99   
The Heartbreak Lounge

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook - First Edition)
$7.99
BN.com price

Overview

"Ex-state trooper Harry Rane is at loose ends. Doing some investigative work for a friend's firm just to keep himself busy, Harry meets Nikki Ellis, a woman desperate for help. Her ex, Johnny Harrow, was just released from prison after a seven-year stretch for attempted murder. Nikki hasn't spoken to him since he went down, but she knows what he's capable of, and that he'll be looking for her - and for the baby she put up for adoption after Johnny went away. She knows it's up to her to protect the child once again. And she's afraid." "As Harry finds out, she should be. Johnny is headed home to New Jersey to settle up with anyone who did him wrong while he was gone, including Nikki and his former employer, mobster Joey Aleo. Then he's planning to find his son and start a new life." Johnny starts at the Heartbreak Lounge, where Nikki was a dancer when she first met Johnny, and works his way through their old life, leaving a trail of blood and fear in his wake. Only Harry might be tough enough - or reckless enough - to help Nikki.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
Stroby 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
Library Journal
When he obtains early release after seven years in a Florida prison, Johnny Harrow embarks on a vengeful reign of terror. His first victim is the unsuspecting woman with whom he hitches a ride, but his real targets are the mob boss who betrayed him and the ex-girlfriend/stripper who gave their child up for adoption. The ex-girlfriend, apprised of Johnny's freedom, hires protection in the form of ex-state trooper Harry Rane, who's been working private security. Well-refined prose, vivid descriptions, and mounting tension stamp this hard-hitting follow-up to the acclaimed The Barbed-Wire Kiss. Stroby lives in Ocean Grove, NJ. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a brilliant follow-up to his impressive debut (The Barbed-Wire Kiss, 2003), Stroby continues the hard-boiled adventures of Harry Rane. "You're a good man," a downhearted frail says to Harry Rane. "Don't let anybody tell you different." And she's right. Beneath the flinty facade and the iron curtain of habitual Weltschmerz beats a stout heart full to bursting with generous indignation at injustice. So it's no surprise that Nikki Ellis, the downhearted frail, turns to Harry when she's troubled by John Harrow, a stone killer who's just been released from Florida's Belle Glades State Prison after a seven-year jolt for attempted murder. Nikki has no doubt that her former lover has her in his sights. Never mind that he can't possibly know she's living in New Jersey. Johnny's a special case, she insists grimly. What he wants, he finds. And he wants her and the son he's never seen, the son she's given over for adoption. Harry becomes a believer, but even he isn't quite ready for this one-man wrecking crew. When Harrow and Rane go mano a mano in the obligatory showdown, the denouement is bloody, explosive, and deeply satisfying. Harry Rane walks these mean streets perfectly at home with the icons: Spade, Marlowe, and Archer.
From the Publisher
"In the brilliant follow-up to his impressive debut, Stroby continues the hard-boiled adventures of Harry Rane..."

Kirkus (starred review)

"Well-refined prose, vivid descriptions, and mounting tension stamp this hard-hitting follow-up to the acclaimed The Barbed-Wire Kiss."

Library Journal

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312651183
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/9/2009
  • Series: Harry Rane Novels Series , #2
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,417,780
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Wallace Stroby is an editor for the New Jersey Star Ledger. His first novel, The Barbed-Wire Kiss, was a finalist for the Barry Award for Best First Novel. He lives in New Jersey, where he was born and raised.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Heartbreak Lounge

1

Two days out of prison and twenty miles south of Daytona, Johnny decided he'd walked far enough.

He slipped the duffel bag off his shoulder, dropped it in the parched grass. There wasn't much in it: two pairs of jeans, some spare shirts and socks and the books from his cell—paperbacks of Nietzsche and Sun-Tzu, the Hagakure. He'd given everything else away before being processed out.

He sat on the duffel, elbows on his knees. He knew there was little chance of getting a ride for the next few miles, especially the way he looked, and he was light-headed from the sun and lack of food. He hadn't eaten since the night before, eggs and coffee at an all-night diner in Melbourne. He'd slept in a park, taken his chances with the police, not wanting to spend any more of the little kick-out money he had left on a motel.

There was a single Camel in the bent pack in his shirt pocket. He shook it out, straightened it, lit it with the silver Marine Corps lighter he'd stolen off a bar in Boynton Beach. He sucked in the smoke, held it for a good long time before letting it out, then crumpled the empty pack, tossed it. He sat there smoking, his legs sore, his back stiff, feet blistered in the heavy work boots. He would hurt tonight. Hurt twice as much if he had to sleep outside again.

He heard an engine, turned to look back the way he'd come. A flatbed truck rumbled toward him in the heat haze. Without getting up, he held out his thumb. The truck blew by him, raising dust and grit from the road, leaving it suspended in the air.

Passenger cars were few on this stretch of Route 1, and heknew his best chance was a truck. Yesterday he'd gotten a ride all the way from Fort Pierce to the outskirts of Melbourne in the bed of a pickup driven by two Mexican day laborers. He sat on stacked concrete blocks and when they let him off, the dust was all over his clothes, his skin. He'd walked into town from there.

He took off the Marlins cap he'd bought in a convenience store, rubbed at his stubble. In Glades he'd kept his head shaved, had only let his hair grow out in the month before his release. It was thickening now, itching as it came in, but it offered little protection. The cap helped keep the sun off his scalp and forehead, but he could feel the stiffness and burning on the back of his neck.

He finished the cigarette, watched a hawk glide in the thermal currents above the tree line. There was swamp on both sides of the highway, the air thick with the sulfur smell of it. Spanish moss hung from the cypress trees and it looked cool and dark among them, but the one time he had wandered in to get out of the sun, he had ended up knee-deep in water. So he kept to the road.

Out here, between towns, he knew he was running the biggest risk. He watched for the tan and black Florida State Police cruisers: if a trooper thought he was hitchhiking, he would be stopped, questioned, have to show ID. He was legal, free and clear, but that wouldn't matter. Cops were cops, and here it would be even worse. If he looked down-and-out—if he looked like what he was—they would fuck with him, make him spend a night in their drunk tank, cite, fine and release him. All by way of warning: Don't come back.

He wasn't coming back, he knew that. If he ever got out of this state, he was never coming back.

He brushed ash from his pants, stood up, his knees aching. He picked up the duffel, slung it over his right shoulder.

He heard the car before he saw it. Didn't bother to turn at first, until he heard the pitch of the engine change, slow. It was a dark green Buick Electra, sun flashing off chrome. He put his thumb out, saw a glimpse of blonde hair as the carwent by. It was halfway up the rise when its brake lights glowed.

He watched the car slow, steer onto the shoulder, pause there as if the driver were having second thoughts. Then it began to slowly reverse, veering slightly from side to side. He could see the woman behind the wheel now, right arm thrown over the seat as she backed up, no one else in the car.

It stopped a few yards ahead of him, the woman looking back, sizing him up, her foot probably still on the gas pedal, ready to pull away in an instant. He knew how he must look, covered with dust and grime, his blue work shirt sweat dark. He walked slow, expecting the car to peal away, leave him breathing road dust. It stayed where it was.

As he got closer, there was a click from the trunk and the lid rose. He looked at her through the back window, saw her smile.

The trunk was big, empty except for a blanket and a white metal first-aid kit. He dropped the duffel in, shut the lid, heard the thunk as she unlocked the passenger-side door automatically.

He opened the door, said, "Thanks," and got in.

She was in her late forties, early fifties: frosted blonde hair, blue flowered blouse, designer jeans. She was toned and fit, her skin tan and slightly leathery. He saw all this in the moment it took him to slide onto the seat, pull the door closed.

The car was chill with air-conditioning and smelled of perfume, powder. The leather seats were cold through his jeans. She looked at him for a moment, put her blinker on and pulled back onto the road.

"Not many rides along here, I wouldn't think," she said. "And that sun ..."

"You're right about that."

He shifted in the seat, shivered slightly as his sweat began to cool. "I appreciate your stopping."

"Is this too much AC for you? I can open the windows."

"No, it feels good."

He pulled at his shirt, tugged loose the wet patches where it clung to his skin.

"I don't usually do this," she said. "I haven't in years."

He took off his cap, ran a hand through his stubble.

"Well, I'm glad you did."

"Your neck is burned. It must be painful."

"I'll be fine. When I get where I'm going, I'll buy something, put on it."

"And where are you going?"

"St. Augustine. I'm meeting some friends there."

"That's not too far. An hour and a half at most."

"Then that's fine with me."

He looked out the window at the cypress trees rushing by. It was good to be in a car again, riding.

After a while, she said, "You're being rude."

He looked at her, saw she was smiling.

"Sorry," he said. "I think the heat's got me zoning a little."

"I can understand that."

"My name's John. John Harrow."

"Mine's Teresa. You from Florida, John? You don't sound like it."

"New Jersey."

"That's what I thought. New Jersey or New York. You get down into South Florida and everybody you meet is from one or the other. It's like the South just stops and the North starts up again. Where are you coming from?"

"West Palm," he said. "Had some work down there, but it ran out. And I wanted to get home for the holidays anyway."

"You planning on hitchhiking all the way to New Jersey?"

He shook his head. There was a silver cigarette case on the seat between them.

"Mind if I take one of those?" he said.

"Go ahead."

He opened the case. They were women's cigarettes, long, with a good inch of filter.

"One for you?" he said.

"No, I'm trying to cut back. Add a few years to my life."

He took a cigarette out and she punched in the dashboard lighter. He put the case back on the seat, broke the filter off.

"Sorry," he said. "Not used to them."

"That's all right."

He powered the window down, hot air rushing in, threw the filter out. When the lighter popped, she handed it to him. He got the cigarette going, dragged the smoke deep into his lungs, replaced the lighter himself. For the first time, he noticed the key chain hanging from the ignition. Along with the keypad for the alarm and locks, there was a rabbit's foot. It was the first one he'd seen in years.

He slid the window back up until it was open just a crack, blew smoke through.

"My friends in St. Augustine," he said, "they owe me some money. I'll take that, buy a ticket, get a plane out of Jacksonville, maybe a train."

"Plane's cheaper, and easier. You have family in New Jersey?"

"A little boy. I haven't seen him for a while."

"I'm sorry about that. Will you see him when you get there?"

"I hope so."

"How old is he?"

"About seven now. His mother and I ... we're not together anymore."

"I guessed. Still, he'll be happy to see his father, I'm sure. With Christmas coming up."

"I hope. Ashtray?"

"Right there."

It was neatly hidden in the dash. He slid it out, tapped ash into it.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I shouldn't pry like that, asking about your family situation."

"It's all right."

"I can imagine how you feel. My children are all grown now."

"They down here?"

She shook her head.

"Connecticut. That's where we're from. But I live in Boca now."

He looked at her hands on the wheel.

"No ring."

"I'm divorced. Just last year."

"Sorry."

"My ex-husband built houses. We moved down here because he had so many projects going. Too many. He never had time for anything else."

They passed a state police cruiser parked on the shoulder. He watched it as they went past.

"It's better this way, though," she said. "It's like a new life, you know?"

"I know exactly."

They drove in silence for a few minutes.

"John, I changed my mind. Can you light me one of those?"

He did. When he handed it to her, her fingers touched his for an instant, then drew away. Smoke drifted across the inside of the windshield.

"When you get up there," she said, "will you stay?"

"I don't know. I don't think so. It depends what happens."

"You have work up there?"

"I will."

"And what is it exactly you do?"

He looked out the window, thought of the miles falling away behind him. The miles left to go.

"I can do all kinds of things," he said.

She smiled, kept her eyes on the road.

"I imagine you can," she said.

 

The fuel light went on just outside St. Augustine. He steered the Buick off the elevated highway and down a sloping exit ramp to a combination Waffle House and Chevron station, its two-story sign rising above the roadway. He touched the scratch on the left side of his neck, looked at his fingertips, saw the redness there.

At the pumps, he felt around beside the driver's seat for the fuel door lever. The first one he tugged unlocked the trunk, the lid rising. He was out of the car quickly, put a hand on the lid, thumped it shut.

He put five dollars' worth of super in the Buick, went insideand paid the attendant—a teenage girl—in cash, saw her looking at the scratch. He got change for the pay phone, felt her eyes on him as he went back out.

He made the call, traffic humming on the highway above. After he hung up, he went back to the Buick, got behind the wheel again, started the engine, pulled out.

Back on the highway, heading north, he smoked another of her cigarettes. He felt good. He'd seized the opportunity offered him, the car allowing him to cover more distance in an hour than he could in two days on foot. The moment the Buick had pulled onto the shoulder, he knew it was a sign. It was the universe aligning itself, paving his way. He could not be stopped.

 

When he hit St. Augustine, he found the courthouse, drove slow down side streets until he spotted the bail bonds office. He parked a block away, went in, the opening door setting off a buzzer somewhere inside.

There was a single desk out front, plastic chairs. Vertical blinds on the big window, late-afternoon sun flashing through; magazines and a fat dead fly on the sill. The door to the inner office was closed. The woman at the desk, red hair piled high, was talking on the phone in a Southern accent. She looked up at him and a moment later the inner door opened. A balding, middle-aged man in a short-sleeved shirt waved him in.

He went into the inner office and the man closed the door behind him, sat down at a paper-cluttered desk. A noisy air conditioner worked in one window, a strip of yellow ribbon fluttering from it.

"Good thing you called ahead," the man said. "Getting ready to shut down for the day, go hit some golf balls. You would've been out of luck."

Johnny waited, standing.

"You look like your picture," the man said. "I have to give you that. No sense asking for ID, I suppose."

He opened a desk drawer, came out with a legal-size manila envelope. He put it on the desktop, left the draweropen. Johnny knew there would be a gun inside, in easy reach. He came closer, picked up the envelope.

"Don't know who I'm doing this for," the man said. "Or why. But I know how to follow instructions. It's all there."

The flap was sealed. The man slid a silver letter opener across the desk. Johnny used it on the envelope, looked inside, counted. There were twenty fifty-dollar bills.

"Supposed to be more," he said.

"You'll have to take that up with someone else. A grand, that's what I was told."

Johnny looked at him, the letter opener still in his hand. The man scratched his elbow. His eyes flicked toward the open desk drawer.

"You'd never make it," Johnny said.

The man looked at him, said nothing.

Johnny set the opener down on the blotter, left the office. The woman was still on the phone, but she watched him as he went out the door.

He drove five blocks, found a coffee shop. He sat where he could watch the car and ate a steak with french fries and green beans. It was his first real meal since leaving Glades. He ate slow, washing it all down with swallows of sweet tea from a red plastic glass. When he was done he put one of the fifties beside the plate, went to a phone booth in the back.

From his shirt pocket, he took out the piece of paper with the ten-digit number on it. He fed in coins, dialed the number, waited while it rang. When the pager on the other end beeped, he punched in the number of the pay phone, hung up.

He waited there until it rang back.

"Yeah?" a voice said.

"It's me."

"Where are you?"

"St. Augustine."

"You get it?"

"I got it. It's shy."

"I had some second thoughts. We can discuss it when you get up here."

"This is a bad way to start."

"We'll talk about it later. I can't stay on. This isn't a secure line. Let me call you back from someplace else."

"No need. I just wanted to let you know."

"Let me know what?"

"That I'm on my way." He hung up.

Forty minutes later, he was at the airport in Jacksonville. He watched for signs, steered the Buick into the long-term parking lot. He got a ticket from the machine, waited for the automated gate to open. It took him five minutes to find an empty spot. He pulled the Buick into it, killed the engine, got the duffel from the backseat.

He took a white T-shirt out, used it to wipe down the inside of the car, the cigarette case. When he was done, he got out, hipped the door shut, wiped the outside latches, then the trunk lid. He put the T-shirt back in the bag, the envelope already in there.

He locked the doors with the remote, tore the ticket up, let the breeze take the pieces. Slinging the duffel over his shoulder, he started walking toward the terminal, heat shimmer rising off the blacktop around him.

There were buses waiting at the far end of the terminal. He would get one into town, catch a train north. Two, three days at the most and he'd be there.

Near the bus stand, he stopped, got the key chain out. He stripped half the keys off the ring, dropped them through the grate of a storm drain. He found another grate twenty feet away, dropped in the rest of the keys, stepped on the remote and kicked the broken pieces of it in after them. He kept the rabbit's foot.

Copyright © 2005 by Wallace Stroby.

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

CHAPTER ONE

Two days out of prison and twenty miles south of Daytona, Johnny decided he'd walked far enough.

He slipped the duffel bag off his shoulder, dropped it in the parched grass. There wasn't much in it: two pairs of jeans, some spare shirts and socks and the books from his cell - paperbacks of Nietzsche and Sun-Tsu, the Hagakure. He'd given everything else away before being processed out.

He sat on the duffel, elbows on his knees. He knew there was little chance of getting a ride for the next few miles, especially the way he looked, and he was light-headed from the sun and lack of food. He hadn't eaten since the night before, eggs and coffee at an all-night diner in Melbourne. He'd slept in a park, taken his chances with the police, not wanting to spend any more of the little kick-out money he had left on a motel.

There was a single Camel in the bent pack in his shirt pocket. He shook it out, straightened it, lit it with the silver Marine Corps lighter he'd stolen off a bar in Boynton Beach. He sucked in the smoke, held it for a good long time before letting it out, then crumpled the empty pack, tossed it. He sat there smoking, his legs sore, his back stiff, feet blistered in the heavy work boots. He would hurt tonight. Hurt twice as much if he had to sleep outside again.

He heard an engine, turned to look back the way he'd come. A flatbed truck rumbled toward him in the heat haze. Without getting up, he held out his thumb. The truck blew by him, raising dust and grit from the road, leaving it suspended in the air.

Passenger cars were few on this stretch of Route 1, and he knew his best chance was a truck. Yesterday he'd gottena ride all the way from For Pierce to the outskirts of Melbourne in the bed of a pickup driven by two Mexican day laborers. He sat on stacked concrete blocks and when they let him off, the dust was all over his clothes, his skin. He'd walked into town from there.

He took off the Marlins cap he'd bought in a convenience store, rubbed at his stubble. In Glades he'd kept his head shaved, had only let his hair grow out in the month before his release. It was thickening now, itching as it came in, but it offered little protection. The cap helped keep the sun off his scalp and forehead, but he could feed the stiffness and burning on the back of his neck.

He finished the cigarette, watched a hawk glide in the thermal currents above the tree line. There was a swamp on both sides of the highway, the air thick with the sulfur smell of it. Spanish moss hung from the cypress trees and it looked cool and dark among them, but the one time he had wandered in to get out of the sun, he had ended up knee-deep in water. So he kept to the road.

Out here, between towns, he knew he was running the biggest risk. He watched for the tan and black Florida State Police cruisers: if a trooper thought he was hitchhiking, he would be stopped, questioned, have to show ID. He was legal, free and clear, but that wouldn't matter. Cops were cops, and here it would be even worse. If he looked down-and-out-if he looked like what he was-they would fuck with him, make him spend a night in their drunk tank, cite, fine and release him. All by way of warning: Don't come back.

He wasn't coming back, he knew that. If he ever got out of this state, he was never coming back.

He brushed ash from his pants, stood up, his knees aching. He picked up the duffel, slung it over his right shoulder.

He heard the car before he saw it. Didn't bother to turn at first, until he heard the pitch of the engine change, slow. It was a dark green Buick Electra, sun flashing off chrome. He put his thumb out, saw a glimpse of blonde hair as the car went by. It was halfway up the rise when its brake lights glowed.

He watched the car slow, steer onto the shoulder, pause there as if the driver were having second thoughts. Then it began to slowly reverse, veering slightly from side to side. He could see the woman behind the wheel now, right arm thrown over the seat as she backed up, no one else in the car.

It stopped a few yards ahead of him, the woman looking back, sizing him up, her foot probably still on the gas pedal, ready to pull away in an instant. He knew how he must look, covered in dust and grime, his blue work shirt sweat dark. He walked slow, expecting the car to peal away, leave him breathing road dust. It stayed where it was.

As he got closer, there was a click from the trunk and the lid rose. He looked through the back window, saw her smile.

The trunk was big, empty except for a blanket and a white metal first-aid kit. He dropped the duffel in, shut the lid, heard the thunk as she unlocked the passenger-side door automatically.

He opened the door, said, "Thanks," and got in.


Copyright 2005 by Wallace Stroby
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2007

    Highest possible recommendation for this breathtaking novel

    There is a mystery novel titled THE LAST GOOD KISS by James Crumley. The work is revered by aficionados of the genre, many of whom establish their bona-fides with one another by demonstrating their ability to recite the opening paragraph of the book from memory. I shall now give these individuals cause to rend their garments at the blasphemy I'm about to commit, but commit it I must: the first six pages of THE HEARTBREAK LOUNGE by Wallace Stroby are just as good. Maybe even better. Pick up the book, test drive those pages, and see if you can stop reading, once you've brushed from your eyes the grit and gravel that you've accumulated as you stand with the newly released Johnny Harrow on the hot macadam of a Florida highway as he ostensibly attempts to hitchhike away from his past and into his future. I somehow missed THE BARBED-WIRE KISS, Stroby's first effort, which introduced ex-New Jersey State Trooper Harry Rane. If you've already read THE BARBED-WIRE KISS, you don't need me to tell you any more. But if you're not familiar with Stroby, and Rane, you might want to hang with me for just a minute here. You won't be sorry. Stroby's territory is the southern end of Central New Jersey, not the genteel Red Bank or even the deceptively laid back Monmouth, but Asbury Park and Neptune, municipalities that exude a quiet, dark uneasiness below the surface. It is to this area that Harrow is returning by way of Florida to settle old scores and to avenge what he considers, not without some merit, to be a number of wrongs wrought upon him. One of these involves a woman named Nikki Ellis, who gave birth to Harrow's son while Harrow was in prison and gave the baby up for adoption. Rane, for his part, is employed by a security agency run by one of his former state trooper colleagues. Ellis retains the agency for protection, an act that puts Rane and Harrow on a collision course. Rane's tragic flaw is that he is a man who attracts violence while being reluctant to respond in kind. Harrow, on the other hand, has the cunning of a reservoir dog and the disposition to match. His behavior is erratic and unpredictable, with the effect of his actions radiating violently outward from his locus. When these two men ultimately collide, it is with the effect of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. With little fanfare Stroby is breaking new ground in the realm of noir literature. His descriptive abilities are breathtaking, and quite possibly without contemporary peer in the genre. THE HEARTBREAK LOUNGE demonstrates a talent that runs deep, dark and rich. Highest possible recommendation. --- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2007

    predictable and forgettable

    I loved you. But all you did was use me, just like everyone else in your life. Page 294 That kind of trite prose sums it up. There are unexplained events. How did Johnny hook up with the old man in the first place? Why did he let the 2 gay guys live and kill everyone else? So out of character. Raymond Chandler wrote the same book 60 years ago only much, much better. Read Farewell, My Lovely instead. It'll be a much better use of your time.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)