CHOKE HOLD by Christa Faust

Book Quote:

“Do the things you’ve done in your past add up to the person you are now? Or are you reinvented by the choices you make for the future? I used to think I knew the answer to those questions. Now I’m not so sure.”

Book Review:

Review by Guy Savage  (OCT 9, 2011)

Hard Case Crime is back after a short hiatus, and for avid fans, the line-up is impressive: Quarry’s Ex by Max Allan Collins (delayed release from a year ago), Getting Off by Lawrence Block, The Consummata by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, and Choke Hold by Christa Faust.

Choke Hold is novelist and former peep show girl Faust’s second title for Hard Case Crime, and it’s a sequel to Money Shot. Faust is Hard Case Crime’s first female novelist, and if you think that means a tender, sensitive look at crime, then think again. Faust’s protagonist is tough former porn star, Angel Dare, a woman who feels more comfortable giving a blowjob than extending a sympathy hug. In Money Shot, Angel, owner of an adult modeling agency came out of retirement for one last gig. Big mistake. The job is a set-up by some particularly nasty gangsters who are hunting for a briefcase full of cash. Angel, who’s raped, beaten and stuffed in the trunk of a car, finds herself on the wrong side of a prostitution ring.

Choke Hold (and the title’s meaning becomes clear as the story plays out) finds Angel living under an assumed name as a waitress in Arizona. She was part of the Witness Protection program for 19 months and attending mandatory therapy with a shrink named Lindsay:

“She was always making these unequivocal statements about ‘women in my situation’ that had nothing to do with how I actually felt. She also insisted that I was in denial about my ‘abuse’ in the adult film industry. I could never talk to her about the things that were really on my mind. About the fact I didn’t feel like a poor violated victim at all. I felt like some kind of war veteran. Like I’d been forced to turn off something important inside me to become the killer I needed to be and I didn’t have any idea how to turn it back on again. To become an ordinary citizen again, if such a thing were possible. So instead I spent most of our time during the sessions with her by telling the raunchiest, kinkiest stories about my ‘abuse.’ I think she secretly got off on it. Poor Lindsay just needed a decent orgasm.”

Angel’s boring life under the Witness Protection program comes to an abrupt end when she realizes that her cover’s been blown. With her emergency ever-packed, go-bag, “two shitty fake IDs” and a few grand in cash, Angel ran. She’s in Arizona, waitressing, and providing after-hours entertainment for her boss trying to work off the expenses of a forged passport when her past catches up to her in an explosively violent way. Thick Vic, crankster and washed-up porn star, unexpectedly walks into Angel’s diner and death’s along for the ride. From this moment until the novel’s conclusion, it’s non-stop action with Angel on the run from pissed off Mexican gangsters involved in illegal boxing matches and cocaine smuggling. And she’s also on the run from her old nemesis, brutal Croatian gangster, Vukasin.

Choke Hold moves the action from Arizona to the illegal boxing matches held in Mexico, to a Las Vegas porn convention with live-streaming action. Throughout the chase, Angel picks up two protectors, Thick Vic’s cocky son, Cody and Hank “The Hammer”–a legendary boxer who’s sunk to teaching in a tacky local gym, fighting illegal matches, and practicing a little loan enforcement on the side. It’s through Angel’s relationship with Hank that this pulp novel shows its depth beyond the action. Angel never sees herself as a victim, but here’s she’s used and abused more than once in an industry in which no one rides for free. Hank’s industry takes a similar approach. He’s boxed his way into physical damage and suffers permanent migraines and short term memory loss. There’s a sad connection between Angel and Hank–a connection of two people who use their bodies to get by.

AMAZON READER RATING: from 23 readers
PUBLISHER: Hard Case Crime (October 4, 2011)
REVIEWER: Guy Savage
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:



Angel Dare books:

With Poppy Z. Brite:

October 9, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Noir, Thriller/Spy/Caper, US Southwest

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