Street Level

Bob Truluck, Author Minotaur Books $22.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-26626-4
Blistering shards of dialogue, nonstop action and one of the neatest slices of sunburned, low-rent Florida since Charles Willeford passed away mark this first novel, winner of the 1999 St. Martin's/PWA contest. Isaac Pike is a rich gay man who wants a child. His semen may or may not have ended up residing inside the womb of Orlando topless-bar dancer Crystal Johnson. So maybe there's a child to be; but the potential mother has vanished. Pike is anxious to trace CrystalDas is apparently every deadbeat scam artist in the Orlando area. Duncan Sloan, the fast-talking private dick on the case, has an unlicensed gun, an unlicensed practice and a shrew of an ex-wife. Sloan looks in all the right places: a cheap motel, a go-go bar, a trailer park. When Crystal's parents turn up murdered, things get really serious. The author, a builder in Orlando, has created an irreverent gem of a crime novel. With less irony than Elmore Leonard, and none of the ecological baggage with which Carl Hiaasen sometimes burdens his yarns, Truluck offers a fresh take on hot weather crime. Indelibly coarse characters rotate around an illogically escalating scam loaded with dead rednecks and brazen demands for major money from potty-mouthed thugs who surface on the profanity-riddled pages with scant introduction. Scoring very poorly on credibility, this is nonetheless a splinter-sharp first take from a raw new voice sure to be heard from again. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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