Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Genre: Crime Fiction / Noir
Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words
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 Bishop is on the straight and narrow. His prison sentence is a long way behind him. Life is good. He’s married and is about to start his own business. But then an old cell mate, Walker Joy, arrives on the scene. He once saved Jake’s life and is demanding repayment in the shape of a burglary he needs help pulling. The problem for Jake is The Bitch – the three strikes and you’re out rule. He can’t say yes, but he daren’t say no…
This is the third Les Edgerton book I’ve read and reviewed. All have been different in style. The others, The Rapist and Just Like That both started with a bang. However The Bitch is more of a slow burn.
Jake initially meets Walker out of a sense of duty and friendship (a theme that runs throughout the novel) but soon discovers he’s been betrayed. In prison Jake told Walker about a couple of crimes he hadn’t been caught for and Walker (a less than reputable and trustworthy individual) spilled them to a jeweler friend, Spencer. It’s Spencer who wants the robbery to go ahead and he uses every means to rope Jake in – including falsely accusing Jake’s brother of a crime.
What’s particularly smart about The Bitch is the steady ramp up of tension and pressure with every chapter as Jake gets drawn deeper and deeper in. As he spills from one event to another nothing goes quite right, so the implications steadily increase – from robbery, to kidnap and eventually to murder. Jake is trying to find a way of getting his old life back and keeping his misdeeds from his wife. But he can’t.
As previously mentioned relationships are absolutely key to The Bitch. Good and bad. Towards the end Edgerton reveals why Jake couldn’t simply stroll away from Walker, he owes him a lot. Edgerton also takes Jake’s options away one by one to the point that there’s a sad inevitability about the ending, like a car crash you can see coming, but can’t and don’t want to avoid.
This is a really enjoyable story. Very well written and highly compelling. The characters are strong, the dialogue rough and tough. Well worth picking up.
Rating: ***** Five Stars