Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Bitch - Les Edgerton

You'd think that in a noir novel called THE BITCH, the title character would be a woman, but that's not the case in Les Edgerton's compelling novel from New Pulp Press. As it turns out, "The Bitch" is prison slang for getting a life sentence as a habitual criminal.

That's the threat that two-time ex-con and master burglar Jake Bishop faces as he tries to live a normal life with his pregnant wife. Jake has a decent job and is about to open his own business, when his former cellmate shows up to blackmail him into taking part in a jewel robbery. In a book like this, when one of the characters starts talking about "one last job" and "a sure thing", you know it's going to turn out to be anything but.

Boy, does it.

In fact, just about everything goes wrong for Jake that possibly can, and the choices he makes in response are, you guessed it, also wrong and just drag him deeper into trouble. Any time Jake—and the reader—thinks that things couldn't possibly get any worse, they do.

Edgerton's tough prose and sure hand with the plot twists make this novel race along at a very satisfying pace. He proves to be a master at making the reader care about and almost sympathize with Jake, even when he does terrible things. Ultimately, Edgerton goes places you don't think he'll go, but he drags you along so that you have no choice but to go with him.

THE BITCH is an excellent crime novel. Not what you'd call a fun read, by any means, but to use a cliché, it's a book you can't put down.

1 comment:

Les Edgerton said...

Positive reviews of one's work always bring a smile, but when the review is from a writer that I truly admire and whose own work I love, it brings big, huge grin! Thank you so much, Mr. Reasoner--you have no idea how much this means to me.