I was lucky enough to get my mitts on a preview copy of Lou Berney’s debut novel, Gutshot Straight, on Sunday morning at Bouchercon during the free book orgy – and that’s a scene that makes Black Friday at Walmart look pastoral, felt like somebody’d thrown free dimebags of herion out front of a methadone clinic.
What a great read. Enough double crosses to trip up a Chicago alderman, the type of pacing that makes reading feel like an aerobic activity, even secondary characters memorable enough to merit their own books and witty, almost-urbane dialog that felt like maybe Nick and Nora Charles got cleaned out by Bernie Madoff and started doing meth instead of champagne.
Shake Bouchon is a guy who doesn’t mind working for criminals – he just isn’t sure he wants to be one. Fresh out of the joint, he takes a quick gig from his former lover and current Armenian gang boss Alexandra. But his conscience backs up on him, and he rescues the woman he was supposed to trade to a sociopathic Vegas strip club owner for a portfolio of ancient foreskins worth a fortune on the religious icon black market. Shake ends up on a thrill ride that runs from LA to Vegas to Panama City, and ends up wondering who’s gonna save him from Gina, who turns out to be something other than a Mormon housewife in distress.
The main storyline is a hoot, but it’s the grace notes that really set Gutshot Straight apart. A steroid-pumped con whose gonna be real pissed about his car, a poor schmuck who came to Panama to cut a bride out of the international marriage business herd and ends up trying to navigate his way out of Panama City’s dark underbelly with nothing but his PayPal account, and a Bernie Madoff type willing to cough up millions for fraudulent foreskins. Gutshot Straight is due out January 5, 2010 from William Morrow. Not quite in time for Christmas giving unless you’re on the Orthodox calendar, but if you’re looking for something to do with your refund after you dump that gift copy of Going Rogue you got from your Uncle Rush, Gutshot Straight is a sure bet.
Here’s my interview with Lou.
Visit Lou Berney’s website to learn more. http://www.louberney.com/index.html
And watch the video trailer for Gutshot Straight.