Finalist for the Hammett Prize and Edgar Award
Synopses & Reviews
Loaded guns, ladies of the night, broken neon, broken dreams. Here is a world that is immediately recognizable through a shot glass at three A.M. This is life with rough edges, in a novel that gives you the straight goods point blank one cold, snowbound Christmas Eve in Kansas. One single night, defined in shadings of black and white, when everything changes....
For most, the city is closing up. For a few outsiders, this night, Christmas Eve 1979, is just beginning. Charlie Arglist is a lawyer saying goodbye to Wichita by revisiting the landscape of his used up life: the cold stare of his angry ex-wife, the empty strip clubs and bars where loneliness turns a profit, the frozen glare of ex-lovers and cops long snuggled in his deep pockets. Club owner Renata, an elegant dish in a smoky dive, dreams of financial prosperity and holds a single frame of a stolen film that could help her achieve them. And there's Vic. He's got a reputation, a bad temper, and a secret worth half a million dollars. Not to mention a knack for bringing people together...for the last time. Before the night is over, the decisions they face and the choices they make will irrevocably alter the course of their lives if they can live long enough to see Christmas Day sunrise.
"[A] darkly delicious debut comic thriller....Newcomer Phillips's seedy characters are skillfully developed, particularly the semiremorseful Charlie....Charlie's final confrontation with Gerard will likely leave readers nauseated with laughter altogether not a bad way to debut in crime fiction." Publishers Weekly
"[An] astonishing debut novel from a writer who manages to put a funny, modernist spin on a piece of our noir past: Jim Thompson frosted with a blast of Jonathan (Motherless Brooklyn) Lethem." Chicago Tribune
"Ominous, action-packed....This is a confident, wry debut...[that] may remind readers of Fargo or Pulp Fiction." Detroit Free Press
"What could be as empty as one of Charlie's cast-aside whiskey bottles turns out to be a pitch-perfect foray into pulp fiction, witty and bitter, with an ironic conclusion that makes a neat package. Slap a bow on this one, and it's the ideal stocking stuffer for all those Scrooges on your Christmas (or hit) list." Library Journal
"I simply can't wait to see what Scott Phillips will do next. [This] funny, tough first novel felt like it was written by an old pro, an Elmore Leonard we've never heard about who's discovered a place where the criminals are really dumb, the low-lifes are oh-so-fun to watch and, if somebody just happens to get what he deserves, theres no one to blame." Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls
About the Author
Scott Phillips was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, and lived for many years in France. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Southern California, where he is currently at work on his second novel.