Sunday, December 8, 2013

Just Like That / Les Edgerton

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Crime

Approximate word count: 60 -65,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Les Edgerton is the author of fifteen books. He is an ex-con and served two years for a single charge of burglary, reduced from 182, two strong-arm robberies, an armed robbery, and a count of possession with intent to deal. Today, he's completely reformed. Prior to this Les served in the U.S. Navy as a cryptographer during the Cuban Crisis and the beginning of the Vietnam War.

After making parole Les obtained a B.A. from Indiana University and then received his MFA in Writing (Fiction) from Vermont College. He teaches workshops nationwide on writing. Born in Texas, Les now lives in Indiana with his family.

You can learn more about the author at his blog.


Jake Mayes, ex-con and tough guy, decides to take a road trip with Bud, a cell mate from the worst prison in the US. First he needs some money so Mayes robs a garage, then takes off. Through bar fights, hookers and more robberies Mayes makes a living.
However, before long Mayes gets caught and is back inside where he experiences more of the tough side of life.


This weekend I stand accused of being a bad father, and it’s all Les Edgerton’s fault. You see in a typical week I am away for at least four days, so when home it’s family time.

Then I received Just Like That and trouble flared because I just read and ignored everyone.

One aspect to note up front. The author states in the opening chapter that the book is 80 to 85% autobiographical. It’s not clear what’s fiction and what isn’t. But I don’t think this affects the overall read, it adds to it.

The book opens with the author in prison and we receive a brief glimpse of life inside. Once he makes parole Jake Mayes impulsively decides to go on a road trip with a fellow ex-inmate, Bud. The first half of Just Like That comprises the trip, then in the second half he’s back in prison for another robbery (and in the process got shot).

Just Like That is not your average criminal recounting his experiences, far from it. This is a fascinating, enthralling tale. What differentiates it is the author makes absolutely no attempt to hide several aspects. For one, quite early Mayes / Edgerton admits his fear at living in a prison, how you have to adapt to a new set of behaviours and the implications if you fail are by turns revealing and chilling. This is a tough guy, who had a difficult upbringing and spent several years inside what was named as the worst prison in the US. Afraid? Surely not!

Secondly Mayes / Edgerton makes no attempt to justify his actions, no statements of ‘it was my childhood’ etc. It is what it is and I liked the refreshing no nonsense honesty. Here’s an example from early on in the text to illustrate. The author is in a garage, and is considering (on a whim) robbing it, but sees a child acting up for his mother:

‘Kid,’ I said, crooking my finger at him and bending over. ‘Kid, you get the cranberry juice like your mama told you. I got a gun in here and if you don’t I’m going to shoot you in the leg.’ He stood there a minute and I was half out the door when he came screaming up to his mom.

This is very typical of the straight talking Mayes / Edgerton narrative.

Third, Mayes / Edgerton recounts some events that are particularly shocking and very personal to him that frankly nobody should have to experience. Again there’s no justification for it, it’s part of life. If you let your guard down at all the jackals bite. It’s scary. Then the rest of the book covers how Mayes / Edgerton deals with overcoming this personal challenge. Other events in the book include a riot and several murders. Strong stuff.

Another thread running through the novel is Mayes’ / Edgerton’s relationship with an ex, a hooker called Donna. She’s nuts but the author cannot get her out of his head. Early on Mayes / Edgerton briefly states he attempted suicide, again it’s simply a matter of fact. Towards the end it’s revealed why through the recounting of past events. It’s well done and adds another layer.

I thoroughly enjoyed Just Like That. It’s fascinating, challenging, difficult, funny, human and inhuman peppered with moments that are sometimes times hard to take, but delivered without pomp, fanfare or a desire for sympathy or tears.


Swearing and graphic events.

Format/Typo Issues:


Rating: ***** Five Stars

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