cover image Nobody Move

Nobody Move

Denis Johnson, . . Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $22 (196pp) ISBN 978-0-374-22290-1

National Book Award–winner Johnson (Tree of Smoke ) goes lean and mean in this slick noir, originally serialized in Playboy last summer. Jimmy Luntz, a chain-smoking, fast-talking addictive gambler, is in the hole several grand to underworld bad dude Juarez, and he knows his kneecaps have a date with a tire iron when enforcer Gambol nabs him in Bakersfield, Calif. But perennial loser Jimmy gets a lucky break when he escapes, having shot Gambol in the leg and taken off with Gambol's cash-fat wallet. Soon enough, he meets alcoholic vixen Anita Desilvera. She's barreling toward oblivion, having been set up by her prosecutor husband and a corrupt judge in a $2.3 million swindle. As Jimmy and Anita hide out and plan a caper to get the millions, Gambol and Juarez track down Jimmy and learn of the big money at stake. Fates collide in the brutal last act, and, naturally, not everyone makes it out alive. With its crackling dialogue and mercilessly bleak worldview, this stark and darkly funny chronicle of a four-way race to the bottom is a testament to Johnson's sublime sympathy for lowlifes. (May)