THIS WICKED WORLD by Richard Lange

Book Quote:

“Boone wakes before dawn and can’t get back to sleep. He tosses and turns for an hour or so, his mind swirling with thoughts of Oscar Rosales. The kid was no saint, but by all accounts he was trying to do the right thing by Maribel and the baby, trying to get his life on track. So how, then, did he wind up being mauled, and who frightened him so badly that he refused to seek treatment for the wounds? Exactly what kind of craziness did he run into out there in the desert?”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (DEC 18, 2010)

Jimmy Boone is a certain kind of maverick – out of the box and not quite a civilian. After serving his time in the Marines, Boone becomes a partner in a security firm. He works as a bodyguard for the rich and famous. He spends his time in Hollywood, Hawaii, Aspen or wherever those with money gather. It is his job to protect and defend them. However, one of his jobs goes awry. Jimmy believes that his client is sexually molesting his daughter and beats him to within an inch of his life. Jimmy later finds out he was set up by the man’s wife as part of a mean divorce. The man he almost killed may have been innocent. Jimmy goes to jail and, when This Wicked World opens, Jimmy is out on probation. He is bartending by night and acting as super of an apartment complex.

Robo, the bouncer at his bar has a side job for him. Robo has been contacted by the father of Oscar Rosales, a Guatemalan refugee who has died as a result of infected dog bites all over his body. Nobody knows what happened to Oscar. Oscar’s father offers Robo three hundred dollars to find out how Oscar died. Robo asks Jimmy along to meet with Oscar’s father and Jimmy agrees to go with him.

Jimmy is a moral man but he doesn’t believe in living his life by the rules. You might think of him as someone who likes to go outside the lines when he colors because the pictures are prettier that way and it makes for better art. Jimmy is his own man, a moral outlaw. He may not go by the rules, but he has a strong sense of ethics and knows right from wrong. He wants to do right but not because he is forced to by some bureaucracy or by the law. He has to see the point of things.

After meeting with Oscar’s father and meeting Oscar’s wife and child, Jimmy becomes obsessed with finding out the truth about how Oscar was killed. He sees this as personal salvation, a way to make up for almost killing a man.  Jimmy also hopes that his pursuit for the truth will right another  wrong; the security firm he was a partner in has been having a very hard time as a result of  his nearly killing that man on the job.  The firm no longer can attract the same rich and famous clientele that they had in the past. Jimmy wants to redeem himself as the owner is his friend.

Jimmy’s search for the truth leads him to the desert east of Los Angeles where dog fights are held, involves him with criminals who are way past the line of redemption, and puts him in the line of fire where his own life is at risk.

One of the author’s gifts is his ability to delve out the personality of every character. Even the criminals garner some empathy or pity. The reader sees the frailty, damage, and trauma behind the bad guys’ thinking. We don’t want to like them but we can offer them the gift of belief and vulnerability.

This is Richard Lange’s first novel and it is a good one. I was especially impressed by the characterizations and sense of place that he evoked. I felt like I was in L.A. and that I knew why good girls went bad or why bad men stayed bad. I had a sense of who everyone in the book was – – really was – – a skill that many authors are not able to deliver. Usually mysteries don’t stay with me too long. This one will stick around.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 13 readers
PUBLISHER: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (May 17, 2010)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Lange’s writing style has been compared to this one:

Lush Life by Richard Price


December 18, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: California, Character Driven, Debut Novel, Mystery/Suspense, Reading Guide

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