Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Money Shot by Christa Faust

Money Shot is a new book -- published February of 2008 and written not too long before that -- but it fits right into the traditions of the Hard Case Crime line, with violence galore and more than a bit of sex and kink (it's set in the world of porn). It's the 40th Hard Case book, and the first to be written by a woman.

Gina Moretti is the former porn star Angel Dare, now on the far side of thirty and long since retired to running the modeling agency Daring Angels. But when one of her oldest friends, director Sam Hammer, tells her that a girl failed to show up for one of his shoots and his male star, the latest hot young thing Jesse Black, has always wanted to work with her...well, she overrides her better sense and heads over to the location.

And winds up shot, naked, raped, and tied up in the trunk of a Honda Civic, left for dead. (She's there on the first line of the novel, which then drops back and explains.) So Money Shot is a revenge novel -- Angel Dare needs to find out who was behind the attack on her and get rid of them. She quickly learns that there's a lot of money involved, and an international white-slavery ring. (Can we still call the kidnapping-young-women-into-the-sex-trade "white slavery?" Does it help if it's happening in a pulp novel?)

Angel discovers what she's capable of, and takes care of business in the end. Money Shot is an excellent noir novel, with attitude and atmosphere to spare -- I probably even learned some things about the porn business along the way.

And since it is a noir novel, and a story about revenge, I'm not going to complain about a choice Angel made -- it had to happen that way to make the plot go in the right direction. (And it's quite possible that the advice she got was deliberately wrong anyway.) But, even if she was wanted for questioning in a murder, her story would have been massively strengthened by a hell of a lot of physical evidence at one particular point in the story, if she had only gone to the police and/or EMTs.

(Yeah, yeah, I know -- "If Woody had only gone to the police, none of this would have happened.")

I'm not complaining, mind you -- it wouldn't have been the book Faust wanted to write if Angel had gone to the cops -- but I am noting. The frame was not actually as strong and sturdy as it might have appeared at that moment.

That's all beside the point: Money Shot is a damn good modern paperback thriller in a very welcome old style, and Angel Dare is not just a tough cookie, but a smart and worthy one as well.

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