28 November 2011

Choke Hold

The hard-boiled field is mostly a man's racket. The heroes and anti-heroes are tough guys. The writers are overwhelmingly male. Women are usually victims, femme fatales, or side stories. Thankfully things have changed in the 21st century and no one exemplifies that more than Christa Faust and her heroine Angel Dare. I posted about both of these ladies a few years back when I received Money Shot from Hard Case Crime. Well written, tightly plotted, and action-packed, Money Shot was one of the best of the entire line. I was quite enthusiastic when Choke Hold, the sequel, hit the bookshelves earlier this year. Angel Dare is a sort of male fantasy dream woman: an ex-porn star with all the requisite looks, bravado, and skills one expects from such a character. In the first book, Angel's life is turned upside down by Croatian gangsters running a sex slave operation. Taken captive, she fights her adversaries with a courage and relentlessness she did not know she possessed, eventually killing most of them and ultimately testifying against others. At the end she has to leave everything behind and join a witness protection program. The new book starts with the vengeance-mad criminals managing to track her down and she has to go on the run. She hooks up with a young MMA fighter and his trainer out in the southwestern desert and they do their best to fend off the mobsters, a Mexican drug lord, and a crazed, jealous dojo owner and her coke-addled teenage minions. Choke Hold is a fast and furious ride where once again Angel has to call on all her considerable talent and warrior spirit to stay alive. Suffice to say the ending screams for a sequel. Ms. Faust has done it again. Money Shot featured a brilliant Glenn Orbik cover and Choke Hold, as you can see, is equally spectacular. Mr. Orbik is my favorite of all the Hard Case illustrators. I can't wait for the next one!

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