Thursday, November 01, 2007


by Christa Faust
Hard Case Crime
252 pages
Available Jan.29

Angel Dare ran away to Los Angeles from Chicago to find a glamorous life. At least more glamorous then marrying some beer-guzzling slob, getting fat and raising a pack of snot-nosed brats. It is easy to see the girl had a cynical perspective on life in middle America. Once in L.A. she quickly turned her natural assets into profit by becoming one of the hottest porn queens to ever orgasm on tape. For such a hard edged soul, life seemed okay, if not great. Then, as it does with all mortals, age began to catch up with the saucy vixen and rather than turn into some pathetic sex matron, Angel quit the business, or at least the action in front of the lenses.

An intelligent business woman, she realized there was a good living to be made handling new talent. Along the way she might have began to sense a conscience at work, but philosophy was never her strong suit. Angel simply believed, because of her own experiences in the trade, she could not only manage young, naive performers, but that she could also protect them. This is the setting as the book opens. It quickly deteriorates. By the end of the first two chapters Angel has been brutalized, raped, shot, left for dead in the trunk of a car and framed for the murder of one of her dearest friends. Writer Christa Faust doesn’t waste a single sentence propelling her hero in a maze of suspense, mystery and gut wrenching desperation.

The book is very much an odyssey as Angel, alone, wounded and hunted by the police, must find a way to survive beyond the next few hours. Not only to stay alive, but to somehow regain her strength and administer a merciless retribution to the men who victimized her. She manages to contact a tough ex-cop whom she had recently hired to act as a bodyguard/escort for some of her girls. His name is Malloy and he’s been through the ringer himself, having lost his badge years earlier when he became obsessed with the death of a beautiful prostitute. Malloy found the murderer and returned the favor in kind. Now he’s become Angel’s savior and as the succeeding days roll by, Malloy teaches her how to disguise herself and avoid detection by both the police and the gang that is still after her.

Part of the plot revolves around a briefcase full of stolen money. It is the reason for Angel’s predicament and ultimately the deaths of many others before the book reaches is powerful, action packed climax. I was amazed at Faust’s confidence in telling this story about the porn industry and her frank depiction of its practitioners, both good and bad. What I found particularly astute was her portrayal of Angel and the many layers that make up her character. The book’s ending is not so much a surprise to the reader as it is to Angel herself. Convinced throughout the book that she is a selfish, hard hearted bitch, she refuses to give in to that nature and does something completely noble and selfless. It’s a gem of a scene and had me musing about the fact that there was more “angel” in Angel Dare than even she was aware.

MONEY SHOT is a homerun of a novel that will have you cheering and wanting more from this exciting new writer.


Glen Davis said...

Finally got to this one.

A really good book for the most part in an almost unbearably sleazy version of LA. I felt the edning was very rushed, especially what happened to Malloy.

Ron Fortier said...

I think its one of the best new noir books done in long time. She's got a distinctive voice and I'm hoping we see lots more from her.