Synopses & Reviews
Elmore Leonard meets Denis Johnson in this explosive first novel set on the seedy side of Southern California.
Ex-marine Jimmy Boone — former bodyguard to Los Angeles's rich and famous — is fresh out of Corcoran, on parole, and trying to keep his nose clean until he figures out his next move. He has a job tending bar on Hollywood Boulevard, serving drinks to tourists, and is determined to put the past behind him.
But trying to do the right thing has always been Boone's downfall. When he backs up a buddy on a hero-for-hire gig — looking into the mysterious death of a kid on a downtown bus — he once again finds himself in a world of trouble.
As Boone learns more about the boy, an innocent who got involved with the wrong people, his investigation becomes a mission. Along the dangerous margins of Los Angeles, he encounters down-on-their-luck drug dealers, a vengeful stripper, a dog-fighting ring, a beautiful ex-cop, a vicious crime boss and his crew, and a fortune in counterfeit bills. Before long, Boone realizes that his quest to get at the truth about a ruthless murder may also turn out to be his last chance at redemption.
This Wicked World is a knock-out blend of superb writing and breakneck storytelling that grabs you by the collar and makes it impossible to stop reading.
"Set in L.A., Lange's visceral, hard-hitting first novel puts him squarely in the ring with the best young neo-noir writers. Jimmy Boone, a former Marine and ex-con lying low and waiting out his probation by tending bar on Hollywood Boulevard, gets drawn back onto dangerous ground after he agrees to help his bouncer buddy, Robo, look into the death of a young Guatemalan immigrant found covered in infected dog bites on an MTA bus. Boone and Robo get on a trail that leads from a ghetto dope pad, where they rescue an abused and toothless fighting dog, to a secluded desert compound near Twentynine Palms, where a psychotic crime boss, Taggert, hosts bloody dog-fighting contests. Boone soon finds himself in way over his head as he comes up against Taggert's crew of degenerates. While the book contains some familiar set pieces, Lange, the author of the story collection Dead Boys, shows he has the potential to put his own distinctive mark on the mythology of Los Angeles. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A]n L. A. Confidential for the 21st century....[A] sharp, literary crime novel with the kind of lean and sparse prose that writers like Elmore Leonard and Richard Stark honed to a razor's edge." The Book Beast
"Smartly entertaining noir, and a promise of better novels to come." Kirkus Reviews
"This Wicked World is wickedly good — and we have a feeling that Lange is just getting started." Booklist
PRAISE FOR THIS WICKED WORLD:
"Terrific....Even the most ruthless villains are drawn with an unexpected sensitivity to their essential humanity."--Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
"Lange is incapable of creating a character that isn't memorable. Even the most minor are indelibly sketched....Lange has a knack for miniature Southern California tableaux, those things that we notice out of the corner of our eyes....The zone where literary fiction meets genre fiction is a crowded borderland these days. With This Wicked World, Lange proves himself comfortable on both sides of the line."--Antoine Wilson, Los Angeles Times
"Lange draws indelible characters and writes deadeye dialogue, and his L.A. is as parched and pitiless as the desert that surrounds it....This Wicked World is wickedly good-and we have a feeling that Lange is just getting started."--Keir Graff, Booklist
"Memorable....Richard Lange's first book set the bar so high that his sophomore effort had almost no chance of living up to the hype-except that it does, an L.A. Confidential for the 21st Century....It's a sharp, literary crime novel with the kind of lean and sparse prose that writers like Elmore Leonard and Richard Stark honed to a razor's edge. It's also a worthy entry in the proud tradition of Los Angeles noir novels started by James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler....A lot of writers try to write like this, but Lange just does it and he makes it work."--David J. Montgomery, Daily Beast
Former marine and ex-con Jimmy Boone is tending bar on Hollywood Boulevard, keeping his nose clean until he figures out his next move. But when he agrees to back up a buddy and look into a young man's mysterious death, he is soon neck-deep in trouble again.
About the Author
Richard Lange is the author of the highly acclaimed story collection Dead Boys, which received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His fiction has appeared in StoryQuarterly, The Sun, The Iowa Review, and Best American Mystery Stories 2004. He lives in Los Angeles. This is his first novel.