Sunday, February 10, 2008

Review of Money Shot

Hard Case Crime’s first book by a female author, the long anticipated Money Shot by Christa Faust (Hard Case Crime, 2007), does not disappoint. The story of Angel Dare, a former porn star who finds herself beaten, raped, shot and left for dead after agreeing to step in front of the camera one more time for an old friend, Money Shot is a straight-up hard boiled revenge tale with a feminine twist. Think Death Wish with curves.

The revenge story, where an otherwise normal person becomes a hard nosed killer after suffering some grave injustice and somehow manages to stay one-step ahead of the authorities, can be entertaining and satisfying, if never quite believable. Angel Dare has her share of not-quite believable luck, such as instantly becoming unrecognizable to people who know her after shaving her head, but it’s never enough to overcome the momentum the story has. There are no lulls to give the reader the time to contemplate the implausibility of certain situations. Also, Angel is likeable enough, and the bad guys are vile enough that the reader will be rooting for her to get her revenge without worrying too much about reality.

The book is set against the background of the San Fernando Valley’s thriving porn industry, and that alone might turn off some readers, but Faust’s treatment of an unsavory industry isn’t romanticized or judgmental. It has been said that seeing sausages and laws get made isn’t pretty. The same can be said for porn, and Faust doesn’t shy away from the sordid side of an industry that makes a profit from selling false intimacy. Even Dare, who is relatively unscathed when compared to some other characters, has intimacy issues. Still, there is no sense of condemnation. Faust has enough respect for her characters and her audience to let readers draw their own conclusions.

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