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.
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.
This Wicked World 4.4 out of 5based on
edparks on LibraryThing
8 months ago
"Los Angeles was not its haughty self in the rain. It was like a wet cat: humiliated, confused. People stepped gingerly on suddenly slippery sidewalks, looking like they'd been lied to. The gutters, clogged with garbage,overflowed, and water puddled in busy intersections." This sentence appears on page nine of Richard Lange's new novel This Wicked World. It is about this point that Raymond Chandler came to the forefront of my mind. Richard Lange, like Raymond Chandler, can really write. I admired his first collection of short stories, Dead Boys, published in 2007 very much. So I was on the lookout for his next book. And it is a good thing, because I basically read literary fiction, subscribing to Edmund Wilson's point "Who cares who killed Roger Ackroyd" and I nearly had to ask for directons to the Crime/Mystery section of my local bookstore. However, Richard Lange, as did Raymond Chandler, transcends the genre.The story evolves around ex-marine Jimmy Boone. Only four years ago Jimmy was a body guard for the rich and famous, living the Southern California dream. A house in the Hollywood Hills, a Porsche 996 Turbo, and a bevy of beautiful women. Only 30 years old and he couldn't imagine much more to ask for. But now, he's an ex-con, tending bar, somewhere on Hollywood Boulevard and trying to stay out of trouble.Well, guess who can't stay out of trouble? He actually tries to do the right thing but ends up involved with a ex-police officer, involved in a dog fighting ring, involved in a counterfeit double-cross shakedown scheme, and much, much more. I suppose, the particulars of the story are basic, traditional crime novel fare, but his language and particularly his character development is all first rate. For example, one of his primary female characters is driving across the desert in a broken down van to join her former boyfriend where she plans to double cross him and steal $150,000.00 of his money. She spots an casino off the highway and imagines what would happen if she stopped. She only had a few dollars in her pocket, so she thought she would probably lose that rather quickly and she would be flat broke walking across the parking lot which was filled with parked long haul truckers. Mr.Lange takes it from here, "One of them will ask if she's working,and if she's drunk and desperate enough, she'll turn a trick, then pass out in the van until she wakes up sweaty and hungover to a sun so bright it shows every secret." The initial image is quite vivid, but the important thing is how it completes itself. That to me is writing. His characters are even more stunning. The most ancillary character is interesting to the extreme. Characters like punk bass player Eton Dogfood, parole officer Dee Andra Cummings, and the unnamed homeles man in the epilogue. None of these characters, except maybe Eton, has more than twenty words dedicated to them. Yet each character is crafted with such extreme precision that I quite possibly will never forget them.I don't have the colors vivid enough in my vocabulary to adequately express my admiration for this novel. It is simply wonderful in all aspects. To paraphrase from the novel, we may not hear from Richard Lange for a couple of years of more. But I will like to think of him now and then, and I'll be happy just knowing he is somewhere out there in the world writing another anxiously awaited book for us all.
BookBully on LibraryThing
8 months ago
Thank goodness once again for Marilyn Stasio's column on crime in the New York Times Book Review. In the past she's turned me on to wonderful but under the radar writers such as Garry Disher and S.J. Bolton. In the case of Richard Lange, I have a copy of his first book, a collection of short stories, "Dead Boys." But I had no inkling that he had a first novel coming out. "This Wicked World" is a page-flipping treat that toggles between mystery and the noir genre. While many have compared Lange to James Ellroy, I find him to be a kinder, gentler version.This does not mean Lange can't mix it up with the best of them. His story of Jimmy Boone, a gentle ex-con whose big heart earned him four years in the joint, is brimming with savage characters and violence. Boone's helping hand for a co-worker leads him into a world of Mexican immigrants and dog-fighting, despite his desire to stay clean. A blossoming romance with a former cop isn't Lange's strong suit but he manages to keep that part of the story believable.I admit to flipping through a page or two when dog-fights took the spotlight but so will other animal lovers. Now my fervent hope is that Lange will consider giving us another peek into Boone's quest for a good, honest life combined with just a touch of dark justice.
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
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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