cover image Ms. Etta’s Fast House

Ms. Etta’s Fast House

Victor McGlothin, . . Kensington/Dafina, $15 (321pp) ISBN 978-0-7582-1381-5

McGlothin (Borrow Trouble ; Down on My Knees ; etc.) creates a sizzling slice of life in 1947 in his fourth novel. Located in St. Louis, Mo.’s the Ville, Ms. Etta’s Fast House—considered “the hottest joint this side of Chicago” where “couples boogied heartily to exorcise their work week demons, as others swayed to the soulful rhythms”—was the place to be for the young doctors and nurses of the Homer G. Phillips Hospital, the local baseball team and the criminal element. But life in the Ville is forever altered when Baltimore Floyd strolls in with a gun and a plan to horn in on a crooked cop’s heroin trafficking operation. Simultaneously, the St. Louis Police Department becomes racially integrated, despite massive riots throughout the city and public outcry against it. As bodies pile up, Baltimore gets under the covers with a cop’s wife and soon faces a bogus rape charge, leaving residents of the Ville to try and save him. McGlothin weaves convincing historical elements into a fast-moving caper, and Baltimore Floyd is a delightful scoundrel. (Oct.)