Lynn Kostoff, Author . Carroll & Graf $24 (225p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1165-9

This craftily written noir thriller by Kostoff (A Choice of Nightmares) stars Jimmy Coates, a downtrodden Phoenix ex-con whose primary goal in life is sidestepping his loan shark, Ray Harp ("the kind of guy who could make Darwin blush"). Fresh from a two-year prison term for illegally transporting rare, state-protected saguaro cacti, Jimmy spends his time working at the Big and Bigger Jones's Old Wild West Park to make ends meet, but his mounting excuses aren't enough to keep Harp from trying to collect on his looming $6,000 debt. Dispatched to "accelerate" the collection process, Harp's henchmen Newt Deems and Aaron Limbe set out after Jimmy. Limbe in particular is eager to complete this assignment, since his career with the Phoenix police force was terminated after Jimmy bartered incriminating information on Limbe in exchange for his release from a grand theft auto charge. But Jimmy has devised his own solution to his money woes by robbing several dry-cleaning establishments owned by his squeaky-clean brother. It isn't hard for him to justify the thefts, since he's never gotten along with Richard anyway—and now Richard has bilked Jimmy out of their recently deceased father's inheritance. In the process, Jimmy falls for Evelyn, Richard's distracted, disenchanted wife, and their affair brings new complications. Jimmy's love for Evelyn (fueled by great sex) creates the whirlwind that propels this dark tale to its final, violent end. Kostoff's narrative goes down nice and easy, but there's not a congenial character in sight—certainly not Jimmy, whose melting heart does little to take the edge off his boorishness. His final comeuppance feels rightly deserved in this deft, oddball entertainment. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/26/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-4405-3188-0
Paperback - 200 pages - 978-1-4405-5400-1
MP3 CD - 978-1-5318-1270-6
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