cover image The Kind One

The Kind One

Tom Epperson, . . Five Star, $25.95 (377pp) ISBN 978-1-59414-617-6

Screenwriter Epperson (coauthor of the script for One False Move ) makes an effortless transition to novel writing with this hard-biting noir set in 1930s Los Angeles. While the contours of the plot will strike many as familiar, the author avoids clichés in his tale of Danny Landon, who works for vicious mobster Bub Seitz (aka “the Kind One”). Danny, who suffers from amnesia, only dimly recalls the events that led to his receiving the epithet “Two Gun Danny,” but finds the accounts he's been given of his violent past at odds with his current revulsion for bloodshed. When Seitz, a mercurial figure with a hair-trigger temper, asks Landon to keep an eye on his current squeeze, Darla, the two men soon find themselves in conflict. With spare prose, Epperson presents Landon's inner turmoil plausibly and manages to throw in an occasional turn of phrase that Raymond Chandler might have penned. While this book lacks the depth of James Ellroy's L.A. noir novels, it's an impressive debut and deserves to be followed by more. (Dec.)