St. Martin's, Dec 2007, $23.95
In 1962 in Oceanview, Los Angeles, Ernie Stark knows he has done a lot of so called terrible things in his life, just ask any of his friends, if he had any, but the "two-bit hustler” has never ratted out on anyone. However, he finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place (or at least the ocean and the continent). The rock is abusive LAPD Detective Lieutenant Patrick Crowley who demands Stark help him catch small time Hawaiian drug dealer Momo Mendoza or else.
Giving Mendoza to the cop is the hard place as that means cutting off his own drug supply; not giving Mendoza over to the cop means several horrific beatings and doing time on trumped up charges. Adding to his concern is the way the mute Dummy watches him as Stark wonders if he is being paranoid or if Mendoza’s runner and perhaps enforcer, who did time for manslaughter, knows something. He has two days to do something, but how to out hustle a cop, a drug dealer, a killer and make it with Dorie Williams will require on hell of a scam.
Crime caper fans will devour this STARK historical tale (actually it was written in the 1950s) as everyone involved is playing a game of poker with scams, bluffs and calls being the norm in a winner take all environs. The key quintet bring alive the streets of early sixties Los Angeles as each seems genuine with personal motives and flaws. With a fabulous final Caddy spin, the late Edward Bunker provides a terrific DOG EAT DOG Noir starring cold nasty NO BEAST SO FIERCE as these players.