This Wicked World

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Overview

Elmore Leonard meets Denis Johnson in this explosive first novel set on the seedy side of Southern California.

Ex-marine Jimmy Boone-former bodyguard to Los Angeles's rich and famous-is fresh out of Corcoran, on parole, and trying to keep his nose clean until he figures out his next move. He has a job tending bar on Hollywood Boulevard, serving drinks to tourists, and is determined to put the past behind him.

But trying to do the right thing has always been Boone's downfall. When he backs up a buddy on a ...



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2009 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Tight binding with clean text. New Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 401 p. Audience: General/trade.

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This Wicked World: A Novel

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Overview

Elmore Leonard meets Denis Johnson in this explosive first novel set on the seedy side of Southern California.

Ex-marine Jimmy Boone-former bodyguard to Los Angeles's rich and famous-is fresh out of Corcoran, on parole, and trying to keep his nose clean until he figures out his next move. He has a job tending bar on Hollywood Boulevard, serving drinks to tourists, and is determined to put the past behind him.

But trying to do the right thing has always been Boone's downfall. When he backs up a buddy on a hero-for-hire gig-looking into the mysterious death of a kid on a downtown bus-he once again finds himself in a world of trouble.

As Boone learns more about the boy, an innocent who got involved with the wrong people, his investigation becomes a mission. Along the dangerous margins of Los Angeles, he encounters down-on-their-luck drug dealers, a vengeful stripper, a dog-fighting ring, a beautiful ex-cop, a vicious crime boss and his crew, and a fortune in counterfeit bills. Before long, Boone realizes that his quest to get at the truth about a ruthless murder may also turn out to be his last chance at redemption.

This Wicked World is a knock-out blend of superb writing and breakneck storytelling that grabs you by the collar and makes it impossible to stop reading.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Set in L.A., Lange's visceral, hard-hitting first novel puts him squarely in the ring with the best young neo-noir writers. Jimmy Boone, a former Marine and ex-con lying low and waiting out his probation by tending bar on Hollywood Boulevard, gets drawn back onto dangerous ground after he agrees to help his bouncer buddy, Robo, look into the death of a young Guatemalan immigrant found covered in infected dog bites on an MTA bus. Boone and Robo get on a trail that leads from a ghetto dope pad, where they rescue an abused and toothless fighting dog, to a secluded desert compound near Twentynine Palms, where a psychotic crime boss, Taggert, hosts bloody dog-fighting contests. Boone soon finds himself in way over his head as he comes up against Taggert's crew of degenerates. While the book contains some familiar set pieces, Lange, the author of the story collection Dead Boys, shows he has the potential to put his own distinctive mark on the mythology of Los Angeles. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Ex-con tries to keep straight in this hard-boiled first novel. After he left the Marine Corps, Jimmy Boone turned his imposing physique and slightly violent temperament into a lucrative career as a bodyguard. After an unfortunate experience with a client, he ended up in Corcoran. Now, back on the outside, he's tending bar on Hollywood Boulevard and trying to stay out of trouble. But Lange's Los Angeles is built on the bones of Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles, so all it takes is the mysterious death of an illegal immigrant to draw Boone into an ugly world of drugs, dog fights and truly inventive parole violations. Lange displayed his mastery of short fiction with the story collection Dead Boys (2007), in which each brief narrative felt true and inevitable. This longer, more complex tale occasionally feels contrived. But the author more than makes up for the slightly creaky plot with his compelling characters. Even the minor players are fully-formed, and Lange manages to depict a little bit of L.A. with each one. Consider, for example, T.K.: His day job is doing dirty work for a sociopathic crime boss, but his dream is to star in a series of martial-arts-influenced fitness DVDs that will be bigger than Tae Bo. Smartly entertaining noir, and a promise of better novels to come.
Antoine Wilson
Lange is incapable of creating a character that isn't memorable. Even the most minor are indelibly sketched....Lange has a knack for miniature Southern California tableaux, those things that we notice out of the corner of our eyes....The zone where literary fiction meets genre fiction is a crowded borderland these days. With This Wicked World, Lange proves himself comfortable on both sides of the line.
Los Angeles Times
Keir Graff
Lange draws indelible characters and writes deadeye dialogue, and his L.A. is as parched and pitiless as the desert that surrounds it....This Wicked World is wickedly good-and we have a feeling that Lange is just getting started.
Booklist
David J. Montgomery
Memorable....Richard Lange's first book set the bar so high that his sophomore effort had almost no chance of living up to the hype-except that it does, an L.A. Confidential for the 21st Century....It's a sharp, literary crime novel with the kind of lean and sparse prose that writers like Elmore Leonard and Richard Stark honed to a razor's edge. It's also a worthy entry in the proud tradition of Los Angeles noir novels started by James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler....A lot of writers try to write like this, but Lange just does it and he makes it work.
Daily Beast
Eric Williamson
Stylistically brilliant, painfully and truly observed and rendered, Dead Boys is not just one of the best collections thus far this decade:Dead Boys is one of the best short story collections of the past fifty years, right up there with Barry Hannah's Airships, Chris Offutt's Kentucky Straight, James Baldwin's Going to Meet the Man, and Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find.
San Francisco Chronicle
Tod Goldberg
The best debut collection we have read all year....You could shelve Lange between Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, and Richard Yates, and no fights would break out...Lange writes with tremendous heart.
E! Online
Alice Sebold
PRAISE FOR DEAD BOYS:

"Lange's stories are knockouts.Gritty, humane, and utterly urban.I can't wait to see what he does next."

San Francisco Chronicle
"Stylistically brilliant, painfully and truly observed and rendered, Dead Boys is not just one of the best collections thus far this decade:Dead Boys is one of the best short story collections of the past fifty years, right up there with Barry Hannah's Airships, Chris Offutt's Kentucky Straight, James Baldwin's Going to Meet the Man, and Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find."
Booklist
"Lange draws indelible characters and writes deadeye dialogue, and his L.A. is as parched and pitiless as the desert that surrounds it....This Wicked World is wickedly good-and we have a feeling that Lange is just getting started."
Daily Beast
"Memorable....Richard Lange's first book set the bar so high that his sophomore effort had almost no chance of living up to the hype-except that it does, an L.A. Confidential for the 21st Century....It's a sharp, literary crime novel with the kind of lean and sparse prose that writers like Elmore Leonard and Richard Stark honed to a razor's edge. It's also a worthy entry in the proud tradition of Los Angeles noir novels started by James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler....A lot of writers try to write like this, but Lange just does it and he makes it work."
E! Online
"The best debut collection we have read all year....You could shelve Lange between Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, and Richard Yates, and no fights would break out...Lange writes with tremendous heart."
New York Times Book Review
PRAISE FOR THIS WICKED WORLD:

"Terrific....Even the most ruthless villains are drawn with an unexpected sensitivity to their essential humanity."

Los Angeles Times
"Lange is incapable of creating a character that isn't memorable. Even the most minor are indelibly sketched....Lange has a knack for miniature Southern California tableaux, those things that we notice out of the corner of our eyes....The zone where literary fiction meets genre fiction is a crowded borderland these days. With This Wicked World, Lange proves himself comfortable on both sides of the line."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316017374
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Lange is the author of the highly acclaimed story collection, Dead Boys, which received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His fiction has appeared in StoryQuarterly, The Sun, The Iowa Review, and Best American Mystery Stories 2004. He lives in Los Angeles. This is his first novel.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Ready For A Louis Armstrong Song

    What a wicked world. Richard Lange's first novel is a firecracker of human interest as Jimmy Boone, fresh out of prison, tries to live life on the upside despite numerous bad guys trying to change his path. Boone meets Amy, an ex-cop with a story of her own, and its his interest in her that propels him to deal with the bad guys, yet in his own way. We travel to the desert to meet dog fighters and their pals, and Boone eventually goes head to head to with them in a violent confrontation. As likable as the story is, as much as we root for Boone, the fact remains that this is indeed a wicked world, and Lange takes you right into it, game or not.

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    Posted July 31, 2011

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    Posted August 23, 2010

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