cover image The Smack

The Smack

Richard Lange. Mulholland, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-32762-6

Career con artist Rowan Petty has run out of luck in this gritty, poignant crime novel from Hammett Prize–winner Lange (Angel Baby). Living out of a hotel in Reno, Nev., Petty is down to his last five grand and trying to stay afloat working various phone scams for chump change. When an older criminal colleague approaches Petty with a story he heard in prison about $2 million in stolen army money smuggled out of Afghanistan into L.A., Petty is just desperate enough to take the bait. Accompanied by a down-on-her-luck prostitute who calls herself Tinafey, Petty heads to California. Things get complicated and violent quickly, as Petty discovers that he isn’t the only one looking for the stolen cash. Meanwhile, he makes contact with his estranged daughter, whose life has taken a difficult turn. Lange is a master at writing about characters on the margins of society and humanizing outcasts and misfits, and he manages to capture the surreal culture of Los Angeles in all its contradictory glory. [em]Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. (July) [/em]