RARA-AVIS: Jason Starr's new one: FAKE I.D.

From: William Denton ( buff@pobox.com)
Date: 19 Nov 2000

Jason Starr had No Exit send me a copy of his new book FAKE I.D., and after finishing Dan Marlowe's THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DEATH I raced right through it. It's both hard to pick up and hard to put down: it's so awful to see what happens that I kept wanting to stop reading it, but I couldn't, and I had to keep on going because it's so good.

Tommy Russo is a loser. He's a compulsive gambler trying to make it as an actor, working as a bouncer in a bar in New York. He's into his boss for several weeks' pay, his apartment is a tiny sty, he can't get any acting jobs, he can't stop gambling. He talks to a guy at the racetrack and starts to think that going in with some others on buying a horse would be the ticket to making him rich and famous: but where can he get the $10,000 to join in?

Right from the start, Russo's screwing up, but he never figures out why he's doing so badly, and just keeps on doing worse. It reminded me of Thompson's THE KILLER INSIDE ME, except Lou Ford was smart, and Russo's not. It has the same inside-the-head feel to the it as you watch Russo lie, steal and abuse to get what he wants.

NOTHING PERSONAL, Starr's last book, surprised me because at the end it didn't seem like things were so bad, until you thought about it, when you realized everyone in the book had had their lives completely ruined. In FAKE I.D. the destruction is right up front, and you can only watch as things go down the sewer for all concerned. Starr's blurbed on the covers as a successor to Willeford and Chandler, and he's in the Cain/Thompson vein, but he's an original writer with his own style. His books are some of the best noir happening these days. FAKE I.D. is only out in the U.K. right now, with the U.S. to follow eventually, I suppose. Get it when you can. It's a shame his stuff isn't getting a big push in the States, when all manner of junk is crowding the shelves.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/ : Caveat lector.

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