Monday, 17 March 2014

LES EDGERTON - THE BITCH

Synopsis/blurb……
Ex-con Jake Bishop is several years past his second stint in prison and has completely reformed. He’s married, expecting a child, and preparing to open his own hair salon. But then an old cellmate re-enters his life begging for a favour: to help him with a burglary. Forced by his code of ethics to perform the crime, Jake’s once idyllic life quickly plunges into an abyss. Jake soon realizes that there is only one way out of this purgatory . . . and it may rupture his soul beyond repair.
Advance Praise
The Bitch is the kind of raw crime fiction that’s right up my alley, like sandpaper for the brain. Edgerton has got the chops. Mad chops. Gonna make us all ashamed of our puny efforts one day.”
—Anthony Neil Smith, bestselling author of Choke on Your Lies, Psychomatic, Hogdoggin’, Yellow Medicine, The Drummer, To the Devil, My Regards, and others.

It might be a bit of an understatement but author Les Edgerton has lived an interesting life. Born in Texas, his Wikipedia entry states the following:
Later Edgerton entered a period of his life he refers to as a years-long odyssey, during which he:
·         Sold and used drugs
·         Worked for an escort service for older, wealthy women in New Orleans
·         Sold life insurance
·         Worked as a headhunter for a firm specializing in recruiting executives for businesses dealing with electronic warfare
·         Was a sports reporter
·         Won 16 state championships for hairstyling, a skill he learned in prison
·         Co-hosted a cable-television show about fashion in New Orleans
·         Made a television commercial
·         Acted in a movie
·         Was homeless and eating out of a dumpster
·         Went through several marriages
·         Attended A.A. meetings
·         Began writing seriously

Back to The Bitch then.

Not as bleak as many “noir” tagged novels I’ve read and without spoiling anything for potential readers we don’t exit the book with everyone living happily ever after. It is an interesting journey though in the company of Jake Bishop, our main man – a rehabilitated ex-con. He’s happily married, holding down a steady job and he’s got big career plans which will provide for his future family. Life couldn’t be better.

Les Edgerton
Cue wheels falling off wagon, brown stuff hitting the fan etc etc.

Bishop ill-advisedly takes a call from his old cell mate at Pendleton. Despite his resolve to go straight and stay straight, Jake is then sucked back into the criminal world and at risk of a life sentence back in prison;  a three-time felon or habitual offender - in con-speak “The Bitch.”

Job, hair-dressing, wife, pregnancy, going straight, business plans, brother, cops, burglary, blackmail, diamonds, friendship, history, prison, alcoholism, recidivism, family, secrets, suspicion, snow, murder, kidnap, shovels, bad luck, poor choices, more bad luck, more bad decisions….ergo, death and everyone who survives initially lives unhappily ever after, albeit with a much reduced life expectancy.

Edgerton gives us a likeable protagonist who through a combination of ill-luck and poor decision-making gets locked in a downward spiral from which there is no escape. Enjoyable and satisfying, with well-drawn characters, a decent plot and great pace – overall an entertaining read. Even if at times I was shouting……….NO!.....at Bishop’s fall!

This was my first taste of the author, but with a few other books of his on the pile………The Death of Tarpons, Monday’s Meal, The Rapist, Just Like That……….not my last.

I will count this as my Texas entry for my USA State Reading Challenge. (4 down 47 to go!)

4 from 5

Accessed through the Net Galley website.     

     

  


20 comments:

  1. Col - Edgerton really has lived an interesting life! And as to the book, I know just what you mean about wanting to shout, 'No!!' to a character. I'm glad you found this one a good read. Next time I'm ready for some downward-spiraling, dirty-fan noir, I may give this a try.

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    1. Margot - you could do a lot worse than read one of Edgerton's books, I reckon. Worked well for me!

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  2. Thanks so much for this review--I'm just gobsmacked that you enjoyed it!

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    1. Les, I'm more gobsmacked, that you dropped by and commented!
      Looking forward to my next collision with one of your books, cheers, Col

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    2. Col, you know I read your blog all the time and it's a genuine honor for me to have you review my book. I'm in your debt, sir!

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    3. :-) You just made my day!

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  3. I can't get over that review comment: 'like sandpaper for my brain'. Not what I look for in a book... though he sounds such a nice man, coming by to comment like that.

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    1. Moira, that's a great one isn't it. I'm sure a second book by Les and another positive review and you'll be taking a DIY course in trepanation, the only question being whether it's before or after you've read it!

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    2. I can't believe I missed the chance to say this, given that we were talking about authors' first names, so I've come back specially: I have read a book by a Les - it was Les Miserables. You're welcome.

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    3. Moira, please pass me the drill if you've finished with it! Oh and a needle and thread for my sides whilst you're at it!
      Honestly that one was a shocker!

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  4. I can't get past the title - no way I'd pick up a book with that title. Because it's you I've read the review but I'm afraid nothing convinces me to give it a go despite the title...just not my cup of tea I'm afraid.

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    1. Bernadette, I could well imagine that the title of the book could alienate people, though in this case the "bitch" in question is not a derogatory swipe at women. Books with cats on the covers have the same off-putting effect on me!
      If we all liked the same thing it would be a dull old world, but I do enjoy it when our tastes coincide.

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  5. I think the writer has touched upon the theme "One last time before I hang up my boots" in a very interesting way. We see that happening often in crime fiction and in the movies. Going by his own eventful life, I wonder if Les Edgerton is telling the reader that life is, or can be, a bitch. I liked the cover art. Thanks for the review, Col. And I'm glad Les Edgerton dropped by and commented.

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    1. Prashant, it made my day when I saw Mr Edgerton had dropped by.
      I wouldn't want to second guess his intentions, but Bishop was initially a reluctant participant and would have avoided the return to criminality if he felt he had the option. Yes he made bad choices, and was trying to see an upside to the caper once he was immersed in it. Hobson's choice perhaps with the "sword of Damocles" hanging over him as opposed to one last big caper before enjoying a cocktail somewhere on a beach in the sun.

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  6. To be honest, Texas would not be a setting I would seek out. (And I already have a book you recommended set in Texas.) But the hairstyling bit wins me over. Sounds very different. And the author sounds like a nice guy.

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    1. Sorry if I have mis-led you Tracy. I should have stated author's birthplace was Texas, but he has been a resident of Indiana for many years. I think the book is set there. Bishop's incarceration was in Pendleton, as was the author's own - again from Wiki.
      Would Indiana sit better with you than Texas? As an uninformed outsider, they all sound exotic and while maybe not glamourous, interesting locations to me.

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    2. Aha, I forgot that the USA Reading challenge allows state of origin of the author to count. I only go by setting, so I did misunderstand. Indiana is much better. Although I lived in Texas for a few months, and it has some beautiful areas, I mostly associate it with attitudes and lifestyles I want to avoid. I know I should broaden my horizons, but we can only read so much.

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    3. No problem - it might still be available on NG if you fancy a trip to the dark side!

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  7. Hi
    I think it looks amazing. I'm not sure I would have had the patience that you had though! hoboken hair salons

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    1. Hmm, cheers Ric, even if I'm not quite sure what you mean

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