cover image Stark


Edward Bunker, . . St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95 (223pp) ISBN 978-0-312-37494-5

Ernie Stark, self-confessed “two-bit hustler, con artist, junkie,” rides the razor in this rediscovered early novel from Bunker (1933–2005), who was once on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List, but achieved true cult status playing Mr. Blue in Tarantino's film Reservoir Dogs . Compact, brilliantly detailed, set in the beach community of Oceanview, Calif., in 1962, this effort predates Bunker's sensational fictional debut, No Beast So Fierce (1973). A staccato introductory burst by James Ellroy aptly compares the action to a Gold Medal paperback original of the '50s. As a drug addict, Stark needs to keep clear his supply line from his dealer, Momo Mendoza, even as the brutal cop Patrick Crowley pressures him into setting up Momo. The mute killer Dummy lends some menace, and the beautiful Dorie Williams some allure. Stark thinks that Dorie has about her “something childish and undefiled—or perhaps only half defiled.” The scams, shoot-outs and sweat of desperation come straight from the street in this posthumous wild ride from a modern master of crime fiction. (Jan.)