by Christa Faust
Hard Case Crime (2008)
The porn industry doesn't exactly have a sterling reputation, but has always seemed like a wellspring for stories for journalists and authors who want to shine a spotlight on it, which seems rather ironic considering the abominable storylines in porno flicks. Oh look, another plumber has arrived to work on her pipes. Christ Faust's novel uses the porn industry as a catalyst for a pulpy thrill ride that was about as scorching hot as its leading lady, Angel Dare.
Angel Dare, real name Gina Moretti, is a porn star turned talent agent, running her own small firm that offers representation for women that's an alternative to the notoriously male-centric--and let's face it, misogynistic--industry. When an old acquaintance calls and begs her to come out of retirement, as it were, Angel finds herself unable to resist an easy and sizable payday--as well as the chance to be in a scene with one of the hottest young studs in the industry today. However, she winds up walking into a setup; interrogated, threatened, beaten, raped, beaten some more, and left for dead in the truck of a car in a derelict section of L.A.
And that's only how the novel starts.
What ensues is a taut and relentless quest for answers and revenge. It's been a little while since I read a book I absolutely could not put down. This book? I could not put it down. I picked it up in the mood for a sleek thriller and wound up with an even more exciting adventure spanning L.A. to Vegas and back again. I would have been content with a simple romp. You know, popcorn fare. Instead, Christa Faust presents Angel Dare and her world in a way that offers more than the shiny veneer, but a fully fleshed--pun intended--and remarkably immersive way. When the heat turns up on Angel, it's not a case where she turns into an instant bad-ass and starts gunning for the bad guys. It takes a lot of time and a lot of help for her get her sh*t together, with plenty of mistakes along the way. This is one of the very last novels I read in 2011, and had it been a new release I'd have likely put it on the top of my faves list for that year. Still, regardless of what year it came out, it was one of my very favorite reads from last year.
The back of the book said Christa Faust is the first female author to be published by Hard Case Crime. If that's the case, considering how damn good this book is, I gotta wonder: what took so damn long, because if a female author came along with a novel half this good, they should've snapped it up in a heartbeat.