California-based Dickey (Between Lovers) exposes L.A.'s gritty underworld in this smartly paced novel that is part love story, part coming-of-age tale. Dante, a troubled young man who as a teenager nearly killed his abusive father, finds himself drifting into a life of crime when he can no longer make ends meet. Dickey, a talented writer with a good ear for dialogue and a street-smart sense of character, knows how to portray the kind of desperation that makes people get into trouble under the guise of making a quick dollar. When Dante and his buddy, Jackson—who suffers even more drastic financial woes—hook up with a master con artist, they enter a roller-coaster world where the combination of fast money and major scams results in explosive, life-threatening situations. The author ably contrasts spiffy behind-the-scenes crime-world ventures with heart-pumping sensuality when Dante has some tantalizing encounters with Pam, one of the myriad waitresses in L.A. hoping to make it in the acting business. Dante lures Pam into the con game when he learns she needs cash, and the two of them are an electrifying couple both in and out of the bedroom. Unfortunately, the author opts for a quick fix epilogue by plunking Dante into an entirely different world at the end of the book without showing how this streetwise man of 25 makes the transition to academia. Still, in his compelling picture of another world, Dickey believably shows how even in the underbelly of society, loyalty, respect and love have their place. (May)
Forecast:Dickey has many imitators, but there's a reason none of them has yet caught up to him in sales. Chances are good that he'll hit bestseller lists again with this nicely priced seventh novel. 15-city author tour.
Release date: 05/01/2002