MONEY SHOT By Christa Faust (2008, Hard Case Crime)
This is the first book I’ve read by Christa Faust, but I don’t think it will be the last. It’s also the second I’ve encountered from Hard Case Crime. If this is any indication of the publisher’s abilities, I may have a new addiction. There has been a lot of chatter on the Net as to how Hard Case has spark plugged the noir genre and I’m starting to believe it. Hard Case is specializing in releasing new classics from masters old(Lester Dent) and new(Jason Starr).
Money Shot begins with former adult film actress Angel Dare waking up in the trunk of a car. She’s been badly beaten, tortured, and has no idea why this happened. One minute she’s the owner of an employment agency for adult talent and dancers, the next she’s watching a former friend shot in the leg because she can’t tell some thugs about an unknown case full of cash. Soon, Angel’s been shot and left for dead. But through a supreme effort of will she managers to find a pay phone and call the only person who can help her: a former cop named Mallory. With his help, she attempts to find out why she was lured into the trap which nearly killed her. And along the way she will find out a few unpleasant things about herself and everyone close to her.
Money Shot takes place in the world of California adult film and video. As such, the realities of this fantasy world are part of the narrative. Since it’s written from Angel’s point-of-view, we get her take on the industry. She’d traveled to California in the 1980’s from Chicago to party with rock stars, but ended up making adult videos. After ten years at the top of her game she retired to run the agency. Angel has no regrets, since she made her pile of cash and got out at the best time. But other women were not so fortunate.
This is a fast-paced book which I ploughed through in a few days. The story sucks the reader in making it difficult to put down. Christa Faust has a direct writing style which minimizes descriptions and dialogue. The reader is provided with enough material to keep the book moving along. She also manages to pack the hottest seduction scene into two pages involving nothing more than a pair of $700.00 designer boots.
Faust sets the plot up for standard devices which are twisted into angles. Everyone expects the hero(ine) to do the right thing and be rewarded by Justice. But happens when revenge is served hot on a cold dish? Faust leaves the reader in astonishment as perfectly moral and sane people commit the most sinister of deeds.
(First written 12/09)